Students have the power to shape the future we will inherit. The Student PIRGs works with professional staff at colleges and universities to make sure our peers have the skills, opportunities and training they need to create a better, more sustainable future for all of us. Our chapters and clubs on nearly 100 campuses in 25 states provide the training, professional support and resources students need to tackle climate change, protect public health, revitalize our democracy, feed the hungry and more. Students have been at the forefront of social change throughout history, from civil rights, to Voting Rights to protecting the environment. For nearly 50 years we’ve helped students to get organized, mobilized and energized so they can continue to be on the cutting edge of positive change.PIRG New Voters Project, Inc. (Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project) is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) nonprofit with 4945(f) status. We work on a 100 campuses across the country to activate the largest voting bloc in the country. Young people continue to be underrepresented in our democracy, so we work to make sure every student has the opportunity to have their voice heard in our elections by building a culture of civic engagement on college campuses. We engage students, faculty, and administrators to build systems of voter engagement for the long term.Since 1984, our field based, non-partisan effort has helped to register over 2 million young people and make over 3 million Get out the Vote contacts reminding young people where, when, and how to vote. We have tested new field models to ensure we are running the most effective civic engagement program possible. One study of the program showed that 76.3 percent of the voters we helped to register turned out to the polls, among the highest rates of all non-partisan Voter Registration efforts. 68.8 percent of voters we helped to register were brand-new registrants, making the project one of the most effective ways to bring new voters into the electoral process.
By working to build diverse vote coalitions on our campuses including – student groups, student government, faculty, administrations, and election officials – we collaborative work to ensure that every student is civically engaged. Over the next two years we are focused on three phases of our effort: 1) Institutionalizing Voter RegistrationOur goal is to work within the communities of our campuses to build comprehensive civic engagement action plans where the campus administration, faculty, student organization leaders, and other community members commit to making ongoing civic engagement a part of the campus culture. We work with campuses to adopt the leading best practices for ongoing engagement by securing commitments to adopting commitments including participating in Tufts University’s National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE), the Students Learn, Students Vote checklist, and the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge.2) “Whats your plan?”The goal of this phase is to raise the level of youth involvement in primary and local elections so that local and statewide candidates for office talk about issues that matter to young people. We’ll be meeting candidates wherever they are to ask them “What’s Your Plan?” around an issue that matters to the student volunteer asking the question. This cycle, our plan is to make over 100 appearances at campaign events across the country, when it is safe to do so.3) Mobilizing votersVoter Registration. Voter Registration is the heart of our program, because we know that registering someone to vote is the single best thing we can do to ensure they turn out to vote. We’ll combine technology (i.e. online Voter Registration) with pavement hitting tactics (registering students in classrooms, events on campuses) to make sure all students at one of our target campuses get a chance to register at least three times in the fall.Get Out the Vote. Once we get folks registered to vote, we need to make sure they turn out to vote, in local, primary, and statewide elections. We’ll use multiple tactics to encourage students to vote. We’ll make one-on-one contacts through tabling and door-to-door canvassing. Students will present in classes and students groups, and run campus events where students will fill out pledge to vote cards. We’ll mail back the pledge to vote cards before Election Day as a reminder to vote.In addition, we’ll use relational organizing tools to reach students by text to send them reminder messages from contacts they trust. At the same time, we’ll run nightly phone banks to call students and remind them to vote using the lists we built during our Voter Registration and recruitment drives. Finally, we’ll use both digital and in-person visibility tactics to build a general on-campus buzz about the election.Voter Protection. Three main barriers will affect young people this election—students having inappropriate IDs, election officials unfairly interpreting laws, and students not knowing how to handle problems that come up when they go to cast their ballot. To preempt these barriers to voting, we will work closely with local registrars, Secretaries of State, local coalitions, and other elected officials to help mitigate potential barriers and educate students to make sure they know how to make sure their vote is counted.