Campus Vote Project Blog

The CVP Blog keeps you up-to-date on the latest election-related information and provides insight on how to best engage with students, campus administrators and election officials.

As HEA Turns 50, A Reflection on Voter Registration on College Campuses

by Kristen Muthig, Communications and Policy Manager Sunday marked the 50th anniversary of the Higher Education Act (HEA). This landmark law helped improve higher education by providing federal resources to colleges and universities and offering loans and scholarships to students. Congress has repeatedly reauthorized the Act, and its policies and programs tremendously improved higher education in our country. In addition, the HEA also charges colleges and universities to distribute voter registration forms to students. Registration and voting is a strong indicator of overall student civic engagement, which many colleges and universities acknowledge as part of a well-rounded college education. Campus Vote Project and many other partner organizations have emphasized the obligation created by this section of the HEA to encourage campuses to do more to engage students in their broader campus communities by voting and participating in the elections process. Not only is it a good way for students to become active citizens, but by helping students register and understand how to access the ballot, colleges and universities can fulfill the charge set forth by the HEA. There are a variety of challenges to employing a robust campaign to engage student voters and follow the HEA requirement, but there are ways to overcome them. Challenge #1: Resources. Budgets are always tight. Taking advantage of online means like email, social media, and the college’s existing website and communications tools are a cost-effective way to deliver voting and civic engagement messages. Students are often first time voters and new to the process and may not understand the different rules, deadlines, and avenues for registering and voting. Sending reminders, links to forms,...

Understand the Ballot and Make Sure You are Prepared to Vote

by Kristen Muthig, Communications and Policy Manager CVP posted our Six Reasons to Vote last week highlighting some reasons students in particular should be sure to cast a ballot tomorrow, November 3. This Election Day many states and cities have local issues and candidates on the ballot. They may not have as much media buzz and excitement as a presidential campaign, but that doesn’t make them any less important. The direct impact local politics has on everyday life is a significant reason to cast a ballot tomorrow. In reality, the people who will sit on school boards and city council, or as mayor and state representative will make more decisions that directly, and at times immediately, impact the cities or towns we live in than state or nationwide officials will. Many issues like funding for higher education, job training, business development, voting rules, and the condition of parks, libraries, roads, and bridges we all use are in the purview of local officials. Despite their influence on daily life, a lack of information about the offices, the issues, and even how to cast a ballot can deter young people from voting in these crucial elections. Depending on the state and community there can be different sources for information on the candidates and issues. However, groups like the League of Women Voters regional offices often have nonpartisan voting guides (you can find them online at www.Vote411.org), secretaries of state may explain what the issues are like this one in Ohio, and local newspapers often have information on what you’ll see on the ballot. Before casting an informed ballot, voters must also...

Students at the Harvard Institute of Politics Conference share ideas on registering voters on campus

by Hannah Smith, CVP Field Director Last weekend Mike Burns, the Executive Director of Campus Vote Project, and I went to the “Campus Activation: Increasing Student Voting and Political Engagement” conference hosted by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics. Conferences like this are great learning experiences for Mike and I. In addition to meeting administrators from all over the country, we also heard about the wonderful work students from 28 campuses are doing to engage voters at their schools. Some examples of campus work included mayoral forums at the University of Southern California, tabling at high profile student events at Kansas State and creating a student-led coalition that has organized into a lean, mean, voter registration machine at University of Florida. On Sunday CVP was part of a panel focusing on the institutionalization of voter registration programs on campus. We, along with Sam Novey of the National Student Vote Challenge, and Vashti Selix, formerly of the Oregon Student Association and currently of the AIDS Action Committee, spoke to students about involvement with voter registration efforts and the best-practices we’ve accumulated from our work with students across the U.S. After the panelists discussed their experiences from college campuses and working with administrators, we asked students to describe what voter registration activities and efforts have worked at their schools. Mike spoke about how to work with administrators and answered lingering questions students had about voter ID laws in their state. A tremendous example of registering student voters came from the Oregon Student Association. Vashti shared how she registered 55,000 Oregon students in the most successful voter registration drive Oregon students have ever...

Celebrate NVRD Today with FELN and CVP!

by Kristen Muthig, Communications and Policy Manager Today thousands of organizations, volunteers, and voters across the nation are celebrating National Voter Registration Day. Fair Elections Legal Network and our Campus Vote Project are excited to once again be involved in this important effort to raise awareness for the importance of voter registration so all eligible Americans can take part in our democracy and vote. In 2008 nearly 6 million Americans didn’t register because they didn’t know how or where to register, or they missed a deadline. Registering or updating a registration today, in advance of any state’s registration deadline, is the first step toward casting a ballot on Election Day. Voter registration deadlines in some states are as early as 30 days before Election Day. This year, many states don’t have major offices or issues on the ballot so the push from political campaigns to register voters isn’t as prominent. However, many local municipalities and counties have important local offices and issues on the ballot that directly impact voters’ daily lives. The responsibility to inform Americans that the time to register now rests on organizations and people like the 2,077 partners and thousands of other volunteers involved in NVRD today. All Americans should to be reminded to register or check their registration status and update it if needed. Every vote is important, no matter if it is for a local school board member this November or for president in 2016. So today FELN and CVP are asking you to take a few minutes and participate in NVRD. Find an event in your community and register to vote. If you...

My Internship at the Fair Elections Legal Network and Campus Vote Project

by Shelby Kestler, Intern When it came to applying for internships this summer I knew I wanted something different than the typical Capitol Hill or PAC internships often found in Washington, DC.  As a rising senior at the Catholic University of America and a three-year resident of the District, I have experienced the rush of summer interns from across the country filling the metro on the way to the Hill, sporting their ID badges. This summer, I was looking for something different. I have considered attending law school and am passionate about people’s right to vote so the position at the Fair Elections Legal Network’s Campus Vote Project immediately intrigued me.  FELN’s staff includes a team of lawyers working to fight restrictions that make it harder for people to register and cast a ballot. The small collaborative staff offered me the opportunity to work closely with my supervisors and take on more responsibility than your typical summer intern. Throughout my internship I worked closely with Mike Burns the Director for Campus Vote Project. One of the major projects I was assigned early on in my internship was to find out which colleges in Indiana, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire distribute student IDs that are compliant with the respective state’s voter ID laws.  It was a time consuming project that required me to reach out to a large number of campuses.  Once I had determined which universities did not distribute voter ID compliant student IDs, I helped draft a letter that was sent to these universities urging them to change their student IDs so their students could use them as voter...

Campus Vote Project and the 2014 Midterms

The polls have closed, the ballots have been cast, and the winners have been announced (for the most part). As the dust settles on another Election Day, Campus Vote Project is reflecting on the early student turnout estimates and our work across the country leading up to November 4, 2014. With the help of campus partners and organizational allies we were able to connect with students from across the country and help get them the information they needed to vote. But as the turnout numbers show, there is still work to do. Low Turnout But Young Voters Improve… Slightly Turnout for midterm elections is traditionally low and 2014 was no exception. Nationally, the estimated turnout rate was 36.6%, the lowest since 1942. Only 10 states had an increase in turnout compared to 2010. The rest experienced a decrease; seven states, even some with competitive races, had over a 9% drop. Young voters, defined as ages 18-29, also had low turnout with an estimated 21.5% voting this year (about 9.9 million voters). This estimate is lower than turnout for the overall population, but a slight increase from 2010. Turnout for 18-29-year-olds in the last midterm election was 20.9%. There was also a slight increase in young voters’ share of the electorate compared to 2010. This year, young people made up 13% of the electorate compared to 11% in 2010.  This number has varied between 11% and 13% since 1994. These estimates don’t include provisional ballots or outstanding early and Election Day ballots. Once states certify results revised numbers will be available. Midterm Elections Impact Midterm elections’ historically low youth turnout...