As new voters, students experience ambiguity and uncertainty about the electoral process. They often cite psychological and knowledge barriers around processes and “not knowing enough” about candidates or issues, as reasons for shying away from voting, leading them to determine that it’s best to sit out than to make a mistake. Students need accessible, accurate information from a trusted source to answer basic questions: Where should they vote? What is the best method to vote? Will their voter registration affect financial aid or other eligibility considerations based on their residence? And more.
Colleges and universities have unique access to young people during some of the most formative years of their lives. Our work centers college campuses in creating that space for student voters, and in doing so, creating lifelong voters. With students as captive audiences and a mission to educate, colleges and universities have an opportunity and duty to create spaces for civic growth on their campuses.
That is where the Students Learn Students Vote Coalition comes in. By providing funding, resources, connections, and strategic direction, like the planning structure set up by the SLSV Checklist, we help campus and local leaders plan and deploy best practices to answer these questions for their students.
SLSV Coalition partners commit to promoting the SLSV Checklist, a four step process for institutionalizing student voting engagement for the long-term. We start with a simple premise grounded in trust instead of transactional in nature: local leaders who know their campus best, who are committed to their specific place, and who have access to local social networks are best positioned and most culturally equipped to drive dramatic and sustainable increases in voter participation, learning, and growth over time.
Ensure a campus vote coordinator is appointed by a respected campus leader to lead your student democratic engagement programs. Are you the one leading your campus efforts?
Then the campus vote coordinator is you!
Before you begin, get in touch with the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge and/or the Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project for free, nonpartisan coaching support as you begin your student voter engagement journey.
Do you know your campus’ registration and voting rates?
This data is super important to understand as you begin to craft your voter engagement plan.
You can access this data through the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement (NSLVE), a free service from the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education, an applied research center at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University that offers colleges and universities an opportunity to learn more about their student registration and voting rates.
Once you’ve chosen a campus leader, the next step is pulling together a diverse team of people on campus to help you implement your voter engagement efforts.
The most successful campus coalitions include representatives from student affairs, academic affairs, government relations, student leadership, local nonprofits, and local election officials.
Once you have built a diverse coalition and analyzed your student voting data, you are ready to strategically plan and embed voter registration, voter education, and voter mobilization on your campus!
We encourage campuses to join and submit their democratic engagement actions plans to a coaching and awards program like the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge or the Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project and NASPA’s Voter Friendly Designation program. We also highly recommend evaluating your plan and implementation after the election and building on your efforts for the next year!
Want to learn more about campus democratic engagement? Find resources to help you jump start your student voter engagement efforts or take them to the next level.
Learn more about how you can ensure your campus is #VoteReady and sign up for our the three mobilizations: Campus Takeover of National Voter Registration Day, National Voter Education Week and Vote Early Day.