#STUDENTVOTE STARTER PACK
New Campus Staff Nadia
I have been assigned to lead my campus voter engagement work by my supervisor, but I was already interested in jumpstarting this work on my own. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only project on my plate, I have limited capacity, and there is just too much information to sift through.
You might relate to me if you are a staff, administrator, or faculty member on a college or university campus.
Familiarize yourself with the SLSV Checklist!
The SLSV Checklist is a four-step process for institutionalizing student voting engagement on college campuses. We start with a simple premise grounded in trust, not transaction: 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.
Let’s double-check. You might not be the first person on your campus to do this!
Look for a campus student voting coalition: Does your institution have a campus voting coalition? Check to see if a center or department on campus leads the coalition as an initiative or if there’s a registered student organization leading the work.
See if you are enrolled in NSLVE (The National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement): If your campus has enrolled in the NSLVE in the past, you can use the student voting data to understand your campus’ voting landscape better. Check NSLVE’s list of participating campuses to see if your campus already participates in NSLVE.
Look for your plan: A good place to start is the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge’s website to see if your campus is part of the Challenge and if it has a public campus action plan and/or a public NSLVE report.
If you don’t have a campus student voting coalition, start one!
Building a strong on-campus network of students, faculty and administrators who are passionate about making your campus more democratically involved is key to ensuring that your engagement efforts reach every student on campus in some way.
Check out Ask Every Student’s resource on how to create a strong campus student voting coalition.
If your campus is not enrolled in NSLVE, get signed up!
The National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) offers colleges and universities an opportunity to learn their student registration and voting rates and, for interested campuses, a closer examination of their campus climate for political learning and engagement and correlations between specific student learning experiences and voting. This is a completely free service to campuses.
To get your campus signed up for NSLVE, check out the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education’s website for instructions to join. You would need to get an authorization form signed by an authorized signatory on behalf of your institution. Think a President, Vice President, Dean of the College, Dean of Students, Provost, Registrar, or Institutional Research Director.
- Note: If your campus does sign up for NSLVE (yay!) that does not mean that your data will be public. When the time comes, your NSLVE report will be automatically sent to three people: your President/Chancellor, Institutional Research Director, and one designated person of your campus’ choice.
- Also, publishing your NSLVE report is at the discretion of your campus, and we highly encourage working with your institution to ensure that the information is public so folks like you have an easy time accessing the data in the future!
If you don’t have an action plan, use these resources to get started!
Read the Strengthening American Democracy Guide (SADG), a guide for developing an action plan that increases civic learning, political engagement, and voting rates among college students. This will help you think through all the components of a thoughtful and strong action plan.
Check out some of the most highly evaluated democratic engagement action plans from other campuses to get some inspiration as you create your own!
Then, get your team together to play Democracy Works’ Votes & Ballots to build your own campus action plan. Votes & Ballots is a set of strategic activities that take the guesswork out of on-campus democratic engagement. Take what you learned from the SADG and use Votes & Ballots to make your own action plan!
When you have written an action plan, submit your 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 Campus program.
Educate yourself on the voting laws and rules in your state!
Partner with your local election officials! Nobody knows your local voting laws and rules better and they are an essential partnership for doing this work! Check out the Election Official and Campus Engagement Report and Toolkit, for information, best practices, and tools to engage in successful outreach and collaboration with local election officials.
Reference the Campus Vote Project’s Student Voting Guides. You can keep this handy to learn more about the voting laws in your state, but they are also helpful if you need to reference another state for your fellow students who come from out-of-state.
Voter ID laws can be confusing. Every state has different rules, and the rules can differ depending on voting method. For college students, things can get even more complicated. Clear, accurate, and easily available voter ID messaging is essential to ensuring students have what they need to cast their ballots. Check out this resource we made with VoteRiders to find a student voter ID landing page, voter ID info cards, and a communications toolkit!
Participate in Civic Holidays!
Beside Election Day, these holidays are some of the most visible and exciting opportunities to celebrate voting on campus. The holidays we are talking about are:
- National Voter Registration Day
- National Voter Education Week
- Vote Early Day
- Election Hero Day
You can learn more about these holidays by checking out the CivicHolidays.org website. Also, we highly recommend checking out Campus Takeover: an initiative that focuses on supporting campuses celebrating Civic Holidays! Joining Campus Takeover gives you access to specific toolkits, sample materials, and funding to support your on-campus event!
Recruit and train student leaders!
“Peer-to-peer” or “relational organizing” has been proven to be the most effective and meaningful way to motivate students to participate in the democratic process. Recruiting and training student leaders to lead the work and ask their peers to vote is essential. There are many different types of opportunities you can design for the students leading your civic engagement efforts on campus, including federal work study, fellowship programs, and incentivized volunteer ambassadorships. Mix, match, and combine these opportunities to support student leaders based on your context!
Incorporate voting into the classroom and partner with faculty!
Partner with and support faculty members to integrate civic engagement into their courses, organizing students to visit classes to register students to vote, adding voter registration to the course registration process, or creating a learning management system that meets students where they are.
Gain senior leadership commitment!
Gain commitment to full student voter participation from your institution’s senior leadership through ALL IN’s Higher Education Presidents’ Commitment to Full Student Voter Participation.
Read about research and recommendations to help inform your work!
The Student Vote Research Network is a collaborative effort to fund and publish the latest research in nonpartisan civic learning, political engagement, and voter participation among college students. Check out their newsletter for recent findings and check out their best practices for college student voter participation.
The National Task Force on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement’s A Crucible Moment: College Learning & Democracy’s Future (2012) is a founding text that documents the nation’s civic health and includes recommendations for actions that address campus culture, general education, and civic inquiry as part of major and career fields as well as hands-on civic problem-solving across differences.
The Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Theory of Change,a companion piece to “A Crucible Moment,” describes how the components — civic ethos, civic literacy and skill building, civic inquiry, civic action, and civic agency — are actualized on campuses and outside of the campus community.
ideas42’s Graduating Students into Voters provides key insights about the eight psychological barriers faced by student voters and nine actionable design principles college leaders can use to overcome them.
IDHE’s Election Imperatives reports share research recommendations for what campuses can do to institutionalize student political learning on campus.
Join Ask Every Student!
Ask Every Student offers high engagement opportunities for institutions aiming to advance or launch efforts that empower their students to participate in our democracy. Ask Every Student campuses can access a broad range of avenues for participation that ensure the flexibility necessary to develop the plan that works best for their students and community.
Connect with other Coalition partners!
Check out our Partner Directory that shows what nonprofit organizations may be working on your campus, and who else in your area may be doing similar work. Use filters to find the right partners for you!
Join the Students Learn Students Vote Coalition!
Get access to resources, connections, funding and strategic direction by joining as an official partner of the SLSV Coalition. Learn how to join the coalition!
Identify organizations in your community that can support you!
This could be your local board of elections, local League of Women Voters chapter, or other community-based organizations that focus on voter engagement.
Using federal work-study funds for civic activities isn’t just encouraged of higher education institutions – it’s required. Learn more about using Federal Work-Study funds to pay student fellows!
Check out the Voter Registration Guides from the Fair Elections Center for information unique to your state!
Ask Every Student offers a range of resources that can help you plan and execute every step of a voter registration drive:
Join the SLSV Coalition’s listserv! We are always pushing out funding opportunities from the network when they become available. Examples of funding opportunities we have offered or highlighted in the past were one-time grants, implementation grants, and rapid response grants. Join the SLSV Coalition!