The recent passage of voter ID laws throughout the U.S. has created a greater need for public information campaigns on college campuses to inform students of their voting rights. As Brianne Pfannensteil illustrates in the Kansas City Star, a voter ID law can create confusion for students even in a state like Kansas that allows the use of student IDs at the polls.
One county clerk in the state described her concern that students will not have the information they need to cast a ballot. “I think there’s a lot of stuff floating around the Internet and through other sources that aren’t the truth but spread really quickly, especially in a campus environment,” Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew said. Local voting rights organizations have expressed concern that a lack of information will make students believe incorrectly that they lack the required ID.
Financial realities also limit what local election officials can do. Shew added that budget cuts make it less likely that the county will be able to implement a public education campaign that reaches as many students as she hoped it would.
A recent Talking Points Memo article described public information campaigns related to voter ID, but it is unclear to what extent state and county efforts will focus on college campuses. As a result, students in states that require ID to vote should consider partnering with CVP to inform students of their rights. Check out the CVP toolkit item “Get ID!” for more information. These are just a few examples of the information students will need this year:
- Colorado: Spread the word that student IDs from public and private schools in Colorado may be used as ID as long as they have a picture.
- Florida: Let students know that first-time Florida voters and other eligible voters may use a student ID with a photo to vote.
- New Hampshire: Tell students that a valid student ID can be used in 2012 to vote at the polls. Student IDs will be removed from the list of acceptable IDs in future elections, but are acceptable this year.
- Ohio: If you attend a public school, ask administrators to send every student a letter confirming that the student attends that institution and inform students that the letter can be used as ID because it comes from a government entity. If you attend a private school, ask the housing department to send every student who lives in a residence hall a zero-balance utility bill. Make sure students are aware that this fulfills the utility bill option for voter ID.
- Pennsylvania: If your school’s student IDs lack an expiration date, encourage administrators to add one so it can be used at the polls and make sure that students know how to obtain an expiration date sticker or updated ID.
- Rhode Island: Make sure students know that a student ID from any college or university in the United States may be used to vote.
Contact Dan Vicuna at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-331-0114 to partner with Campus Vote Project on a voter ID information campaign on campus.