Getting Students Voter ID

This post was originally published by CVP on March 14, 2012

The CVP toolkit features detailed resources that student organizations, college administrators, and local election officials can use to implement reforms that will make college campuses more voter-friendly. This blog entry is the first of several that will highlight one piece of the toolkit and give examples of ways in which these reforms were implemented.

“Get ID: Making Sure Students Have the ID They Need to Vote” provides strategies for helping students overcome ID requirements that might otherwise create a barrier to voting. Some states require photo ID to be presented at the polls, some allow non-photo IDs, and others require no ID, so the first step is to check with your state or local election officials to see which requirements apply. You can also contact CVP at for assistance.

Once you know the rules, spread the word well before Election Day so students can prepare. You can do this in a number of ways.

  • Integrate voter ID information into the school website: The University of Wisconsin-Madison is using its student voting website to keep students informed about ongoing legal developments related to a strict photo ID requirement that was recently struck down in state court.
  • Include information about ID requirements with voter registration cards during move-in and orientation and encourage Residence Life to distribute information through dorms and Greek houses.
  • Send campus-wide email alerts.
  • Institutionalize a regular feature in campus press related to voter registration and voting requirements.
  • Set up a “Voting Help Desk” in the student union, library, bookstore, cafeteria, or other highly trafficked location on campus.

Colleges might also be able to produce voter ID for students. In 2008, Ohio’s Secretary of State issued a directive stating that a personalized letter from public universities or a utility bill from private universities would meet the state’s ID requirements. Oberlin College, a private institution in Ohio, issued zero-balance utility bills to dorm residents that they used to vote locally.

Colleges should consider helping students obtain ID in one or more of the following ways:

  • Circulate information about where students need to go to get acceptable ID. It may be the county board of elections office, or a local DMV.
  • Arrange a “Get ID” day with free transportation to an office that issues acceptable voter ID. Even better, arrange for officials to come to your campus to accept and process applications for ID.
  • Provide information about any underlying documents that a student needs in order to get the necessary voter ID, such as a birth certificate or social security card. Have a computer set aside in the library or computer lab for students who need to apply online for certain types of ID (like a passport) or underlying documents (like a birth certificate).

Contact CVP at if you are interested in helping students on your campus get voter ID or if you’d like to partner with us to implement any toolkit campaigns that will help students participate in the political process.

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