NEWS

National Voting Coalition Praises US Department of Education’s Support for College and University Efforts to Encourage Student Voter Participation

PRESS RELEASE: Students Learn Students Vote Coalition
CONTACT: Danny Fersh, danny@slsvcoalition.org

The Students Learn Students Vote (SLSV) Coalition praises the Biden-Harris Administration and the Department of Education for releasing a Toolkit promoting student voter participation that outlines initial steps and proven strategies for colleges and universities to encourage eligible students to register to vote and cast a ballot in US elections. 

Released today, the Department of Education toolkit emphasizes several key tenets of the SLSV Checklist for institutionalizing college student voter engagement, including: 

  • Clearly identifying institution staff members responsible for requesting voter registration forms on behalf of the institution’s student body. 
  • Engaging with faculty and administrators to support students in voting and identifying a broad coalition of campus groups to be involved with student voter registration. 
  • Developing a plan to designate key responsibilities, such as distributing and collecting voter registration materials, to specific individuals within the coalition supporting student voter engagement efforts. 

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The Department of Education toolkit is the latest in a series of actions in support of student voter access, and voter access more broadly, by the Biden-Harris Administration following their March 2021 “Executive Order on Promoting Access to Voting.” Other actions include today’s release of a Dear Colleague Letter, sent to colleges and universities throughout the US, clarifying that Federal Work-Study funds can be used to support nonpartisan voter registration activities among students at higher education institutions, including employment by public agencies for civic engagement work or assisting with election administration by serving as a poll worker. 

Today’s letter was itself a clarification of an April 2022 Dear Colleague Letter from the Department of Education highlighting postsecondary institutions’ opportunity to promote civic engagement among their students, and of their requirement, stated in the Higher Education Act of 1965, to “make a good faith effort to distribute a mail voter registration form, requested and received from the State, to each student enrolled in a degree or certificate program and physically in attendance at the institution, and to make such forms widely available to students at the institution.”

These actions from the Department of Education are especially meaningful to the SLSV Coalition, which was founded in 2016 in large part to help colleges and universities more consistently comply with the Higher Education Act’s guidance on voter registration efforts on college campuses, as well as the belief that higher education institutions are important to the long-term health of US democracy.  

“Today’s actions by the Department of Education demonstrate our shared belief in the critical role of colleges and universities in supporting and strengthening our democratic society,” said SLSV Coalition Co-Founder and Executive Director Clarissa Unger. “This is an important step forward in the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to ensuring voting rights and voting access for all eligible Americans.”

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About the SLSV Coalition

The SLSV Coalition is the national hub and largest nonpartisan network in the United States dedicated to increasing college student voter participation. The Coalition convenes and connects partners, campuses, and students with each other and with resources and programming towards achieving a vision of ensuring that every student has easy and equal access to participate in every election. They use data, relationships, celebration, and easy-to-follow planning structures, to help campus and local leaders register and turnout more student voters every year. The SLSV Coalition is a project of NEO Philanthropy. NEO Philanthropy is strictly nonpartisan, and does not support or oppose any candidate or party.

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