Campus Profile #4 University of Illinois at Chicago

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 The two representatives from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) who spoke to CVP were eager to share what they had done and what they were planning to do to engage students. UIC just started a coordinated democratic engagement initiative under “UIC Votes” that is tailor-made for its locally-based and diverse student body. During fall orientation, UIC will give every new student a form that will allow students to register, have them confirm they are registered, or note that they are ineligible or would prefer not to register. Given that 85% of UIC commutes, this will be an effective way to register students en masse. (Last May, the Illinois state legislature approved an automatic voter registration bill, which, if Governor Bruce Rauner signs, would take effect in 2018.) Student Leadership Development and Volunteer Services (SLDVS) will conduct voter registration drives throughout the fall, and Rock the Vote will hold a concert on campus during National Voter Registration Day. While the representatives worried that the contentious race could turn off student voters, they were confident in-person appeals will convince students to register and participate. SLDVS sends out mass emails regarding absentee voting, creates a nonpartisan voter guide, and hosts debate watch parties. In the March primary, UIC hosted an early voting site for the first time – an opportunity...