West Chester University
Yesterday was the PA Primary, and West Chester University had a fantastic voter turnout. Thanks to Courtney’s email with all the voter requirements earlier this morning tweets were sent out from @WCU_Votes to all the organizations and groups on campus with a reminder about voting, the polling hours and requirements. As the Student Campus Election Coordinator I volunteered all day at an on campus polling location, with some other volunteers from campus sororities. I was in charge of handing out I Voted! Stickers as well as a flyer to tell a friend to either go and vote or register if they have yet to do so. Students registered in West Chester do not always realize where their polling location is, so I also guided them in finding the correct location if they were not there. Working directly with my fellow students was very helpful in what I want to do differently for November and what worked well. Also, working with the Poll workers was extremely informative, I was able to learn and see the full process of voting and getting people to vote in a smooth manner. Today was extremely successful, West Chester University students are definitely proud of participating in this civic duty.
West Chester University
Voter registration never stops. Students head to college to educate themselves for occupational advancement and personal wealth. Participating in the electoral process is a part of continuing education and your responsibility as a member of your community. As a freshman the next four years of your life will be spent on campus and the surrounding community. Although primaries and caucuses are wrapping up in many states, but Pennsylvania is gearing up to head to the polls.
West Chester University of Pennsylvania’s is preparing for the PA primary by letting others know why voting is important to them.
Check out their video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CkV4-obgi4
For ideas like West Chester University’s Dub C Votes email Courtney@campuselect.org!
It’s been a good week at CEEP in Virginia, having successfully signed up another school in Virginia for the Nation Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement also known as NSLVE. One feature of participation is that is anonymous, so much so that I can’t share the name of the school with you! I can though, share some valuable information about this great study from Tufts University.
NSLVE can let colleges and universities know about the voting habits of their students. While culling this data to share with schools, it is added to a national database. Which we think is great. The aggregation of this data from campuses nationwide is of interest and use to scholars, researchers, and educational institutions alike. Participation is safe and secure. The folks at Tufts utilize publicly available records of the students enrolled at your institution from the nonprofit the National Student Clearinghouse. Next they access public voting records obtained by the reputable database Catalyst. From this data NSLVE tells you your school’s voting rate, registration rate, and rate of registered voters who voted.
Moving forward schools can utilize this data to tailor their plans to for engagement on their campus. Helping schools to realize these goals part of the aim of NSLVE and why we advocate for it at CEEP. Unknown to some, in 2012 the Department of Education actually issued a “call to action” for universities and colleges to do what they can to increase engagement and access to voting resources. NSLVE is another way to help campuses integrate these action plans.
Students are among the groups affected by voter suppression, and everything we as a society can do to ensure these students are voting just further ensures the continuation of our democratic values. This week is Thomas Jefferson’s 273rd birthday, and perhaps he said it best in 1808, "Having labored faithfully in establishing the right of self-government, [we] see in the rising generation, into whose hands it is passing, that purity of principle and energy of character which will protect and preserve it through their day, and deliver it over to their sons as they receive it from their fathers."
The students in Wisconsin showed their election excitement on April 5th when they turned out to vote in the presidential primary and local elections. The state of Wisconsin as a whole saw record turnout with about 47% of voting-age adults voting! Wisconsin hasn’t seen a primary turnout like this since 1972. Overall, the numbers display the level of interest in this year’s presidential race. Students themselves participated in high numbers and remained encouraged even when faced with long lines to vote. Looking ahead to November, CEEP is reviewing how the recent voting experience of students in Wisconsin including wait time, identification and registration issues, can be improved.
Students voting at a University of Wisconsin Green Bay polling location reported waiting almost an hour to cast their ballot. About 80-90% of voters at this Green Bay location also had to register on election day. While students at University of Wisconsin Stevens Point who also had to register reported waiting in line for 2 hours. Even though they experienced long lines students did not give up! One girl waited in line while watching Netflix. A few students at the University of Wisconsin Madison were turned away from the polls, a couple minutes before 8pm, for lack of proper identification and no time to acquire the student Voter ID. As we look ahead to November we want to reduce the time it takes for students to vote by preregistering them and ensuring that they have the proper form of Identification ahead of the election.
Most Wisconsin campuses had efforts to register students ahead of the primary and will now look to expanding those efforts for November. Students at the University of Wisconsin Madison held a “Fight for Your Right Under the Moonlight” event on March 15th where they registered students to vote, provided information on acceptable voter ID and handed out pizza. The event saw over 800 students get registered in 3 hours! Efforts at University of Wisconsin Eau Claire included registering students to vote during all week tabling events in their student union the week before open registration closed. These types of efforts proved successful and students who were preregistered on election day reported having fewer difficulties and experienced shorter lines.
As a whole, we are excited by student’s election enthusiasm and we want to further encourage their participation. On the other hand, we do not want long lines and improper identification to discourage students from casting their ballot. Extending information on voter ID, registration efforts, and voter education campaigns will ensure all students are prepared to vote in November.
Students at Iowa State University were stunned when on-campus caucus locations expected to have about 200 attendees were overflowing with more than 800. This turnout is an example of the larger statewide picture of a year in which the caucuses saw the second-highest youth turnout in the last 20 years at 11.2 percent. The energy, especially for a few specific candidates, was palpable.
This turnout reflects colleges and universities more proactive approach to helping students engage in the political process. They leveraged Iowa’s unique position in novel ways for deep and engaging student learning with new centers, staff positions, courses and research opportunities for students to engage, question and grow with the candidates.
But we’ve seen this moment before. Students who might be energetic during caucus season are unable to carry their enthusiasm into the general election, down to state and local races, and translate it into involvement beyond elections. This year offers a few lessons in how to best keep the energy going. Iowa’s colleges' and universities' can continue to play a strong role in helping students engage. Parties and candidates can look to this year for new ideas for engaging youth voters.
Students thrive when they can engage in hands-on learning and have opportunities to take the lead. This year at Loras College and the University of Iowa, students are engaged at every stage of a real public opinion polling process. At Drake University, they planned major media events, including two nationally televised events. Grand View University’s student government funded a student intern to implement electoral engagement programming in hopes that knowledge will lessen political apathy and add some fun to what can be a tedious process.
This year, it wasn’t necessarily journalists bringing up issues like climate change and student loans, but college students. In the past, parties and candidates saw campuses exclusively as a means to demonstrate youth support. As millennials pass baby boomers with the largest share of U.S. voting population, we can help position students to ask hard questions. Colleges and universities, parties and candidates can work together to create opportunities for student voices to be heard.
The overwhelming youth support for candidates outside the establishment might yield lessons for parties and candidates as well. Students are looking for something different. They are more likely to identify as independents, and there is plenty of room for bipartisanship in civic advocacy. Parties can work together in the general election to engage students around issues they care about, and local candidates can also harness this energy by playing up their unique approach.
Along with opportunities, the caucus raises tough questions. The discussion of higher education’s responsibility in electoral engagement includes a debate highlighted by columnist Rekha Basu on the ethics of requiring class attendance on caucus night. Leading up to 2020, we hope college, university and party leaders can work together for solutions that allow for full participation from students, and leading into the general election we can take even more advantage of online registration and satellite voting on campuses.
Outside of politics, there is another reason for parties and higher education to work together to keep students engaged. We haven’t done a scientific study, but we’ve talked to enough students to know the caucus was a factor when they chose Iowa for higher education. Given the current climate of competition in admissions and the ongoing “brain drain,” even small trends can make a difference. By building even more youth participation beyond the caucuses, we can do even more to attract students to come here for education, and hopefully stay.
As the caucus frenzy ebbs, rather than going back to “normal” Iowa offers plenty of opportunities for experiential political learning, student leadership and bipartisan engagement. The caucus spirit, which includes taking the rights and responsibilities of citizenship seriously, is why Iowa is still first in the nation. We can keep this spirit alive.
MacKenzie Bills and Emily Shields
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