This summer and fall CVP is writing profiles of colleges and universities and their efforts to educate students about voter registration, casting a ballot and developing democratic engagement. These campuses are a part of the Voter Friendly Campus designation project offered by CVP and NASPA.
by Matt Camarda, CVP Intern
Students at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) likely face more barriers to voting than any other school CVP interviewed this summer. Despite the recent court rulings students could still be confused about what they need to do to cast a ballot in the wake of the restrictive photo ID law, shortened early voting, and redistricting. Despite an ever-shifting legal landscape, UNCC remains committed to providing resources students need to vote.
UNCC partners with Andrew Goodman Foundation, who funded three Vote Everywhere Ambassadors, who play a crucial role in voter registration and education. Campuses that collaborate with student leaders are generally more successful. Along with trained volunteers, they staff UNCC designated voter registration sites to answer any questions students may have, provide access to registration through TurboVote, and print and deliver completed forms. This arrangement has been especially helpful because UNCC has had issues with third-party organizations registering students incorrectly.
The 49er Democracy Experience committee, composed of students, faculty, and staff, also work to alleviate confusion and remove barriers to voting. Committee members are dedicated to informing students and give presentations at basketball games, classes, residence halls, and new student orientation events. The 49er Democracy Experience also uses social media and the university’s website to remind students about registration deadlines, primary dates, and acceptable forms of ID. Because of long lines and the potential for students to be turned away due to lack of acceptable ID, UNCC encourages students to vote early. During the March primary, most of early voting occurred during students’ spring break, so the 49er Democracy Experience committee held an Early Vote Kickoff. This provided shuttle rides to the school’s off-campus early voting location before students left for spring break. UNCC will offer early voting shuttles for the general election unless it can acquire an on-campus early voting location.
UNCC understands that democratic engagement is a fundamental responsibility of higher education – one that becomes more vital when states enact policies that discourage students from voting.