Making the Most of the Last Week Before the Election
In preparing for the 2020 general election, many campus stakeholders likely had the intention of hosting voter registration events, debate watch parties, issue forums, and political town halls as part of their curriculum and cocurriculum. But that became a lot more difficult earlier this year. COVID-19 and the transition to online-only or hybrid forms of learning and engagement have made navigating any of these voter engagement opportunities extremely difficult, even with months left on the clock. And now, to make student voter engagement feel even more daunting, we’re only a week away from Election Day.
You might be asking yourself: “What can I possibly do today that would still make an impact?”
Well, we are here to help.
It remains true that nonpartisan college-student voter education is more important now than ever before. To support you in your efforts to help students be active and informed voters, the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge—a nonpartisan, nonprofit initiative with 750 participating campuses—has created a one-stop-shop voting portal: allintovote.org. This free site provides students with tools to pledge to vote, register to vote, confirm their voter registration status, determine how and where to vote, and understand what is on their ballot. The site is organized around five actions students can take: register, plan, learn, get involved, and take the pledge.
Beyond sharing ALL IN to Vote with your campus community, there are many other actions that you can take right now to support voter engagement:
- Ask students, faculty, and staff if they are registered to vote. If not, direct them to ALL IN to Vote or to another nonpartisan voter registration portal that your campus uses (e.g., TurboVote, Rock the Vote).
- Encourage everyone to research what’s on their ballot. There’s a lot more on the ballot than just the presidential slate. Being a prepared voter is important. Students can learn what’s on their ballot so that they can be #VoteReady.
- Remind everyone to make a voting plan. Find out the voting rules in any state to make a decision about requesting an absentee ballot or finding their nearby polling place to vote early in-person or on Tuesday, November 3.
- Explain the different options for voting. Students can vote at their home address or campus address. They can also vote by mail, vote early, or vote in-person on Election Day in many states.
- Get it on their calendars. Ask faculty to add important election-related dates to their syllabi, especially Election Day (November 3).
- Set expectations about when we might learn the results. Prepare students that we may not know the final outcome of many races on the ballot by Election Day night or even in the days that follow. Encourage them to think of it as “Election Week,” rather than simply Election Day.
- Encourage them to pledge to vote. Studies show that people are more likely to complete an action if they’ve already made a public commitment to it. That’s why we built the ALL IN to Vote pledge as a way for students (and their friends and family) to maintain accountability when it comes to voting. Pledging will also help your institution climb the ALL IN Campus Leaderboard.
- Prepare for post-election processing. Work with faculty and staff to develop post-election plans and to be ready for conversations about the emotions students will have about the election outcomes.
- Spread the word. Amplify nonpartisan voting messages such as voter registration dates, polling locations, and election-related events using multiple platforms, including social media channels.
To learn more about the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, our ALL IN to Vote tool, or how to organize virtual peer-to-peer text banking events on campus, visit allinchallenge.org.
Stephanie King is the director of strategic initiatives and Catherine Fish is managing director, both with ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge.