Check out these ten great ideas for creating visibility for political issues and the voting process on college campuses, including successful projects schools have done in the past and fresh concepts. From fun attention-grabbers like mock boxing matches between students costumed as the presidential candidates, to serious items like getting students committed with Pledges to Vote, we've got ideas for every campus. Take a look!
One of the recent classroom ideas we really like is election panel discussions: Many schools are holding election- or issue-related panels or debates drawing on the expertise of faculty in different disciplines or outside experts such as staff from the League of Women Voters. Colleges normally hold these events during free hours, such as lunch or evening, but if they shift the panels to key class periods organizers can also ask relevant faculty to bring their classes to a large common room to participate, building a much wider audience. Organizers can give out information on voter turnout or last-minute voter registration, where appropriate, and faculty can reinforce the event by building lessons or assignments off of the content. Make sure to explore this option at your campus and the campuses you work with: It's powerful, flexible, low-cost, and easy to organize ... a truly bright idea!
A poster for a Debate Watch party - with text polling! - from the University of Texas - Arlington. The next debate, on Thursday night, is the vice-presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan, hosted by Centre College in Danville, KY. The final two presidential debates will follow over the next two weeks. The full schedule for and information on this year's presidential debates is here.
Another great poster - this one on absentee voting, from our friends at Michigan Campus Compact. Send us your photos of events, actions, and resources, and we'll highlight them in Photo of the Day!
This coming Thursday, October 11, Vice President Joe Biden and Representative Paul Ryan will debate on foreign and domestic policy at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky from 9 PM to 10:30 PM Eastern Time. One of these men will be standing in for the next Commander-in-Chief, so make sure you watch and bring your friends. If you're planning to host or attend a debate-watching party (and you definitely should!), check out the 2012 Rock the Vote DebateWatch guide, which we updated from the popular 2008 edition. (Also downloadable here.) You can find out more about this debate and the following two presidential debates here, and you should also check out the Dialogue Guides our Florida team put together on the four issues students say they care most about: Education, Jobs and the Economy, Immigration, and Health Care. Enjoy!
A unanimous Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruling yesterday becomes the latest court decision to reject laws restricting access to the ballot box. From the ruling:
"Plaintiffs introduced extensive evidence that a significant number of Ohio voters will in fact be precluded from voting without the additional three days of in-person early voting. The district court credited statistical studies that estimated approximately 100,000 Ohio voters would choose to vote during the three-day period before Election Day, and that these voters are disproportionately “women, older, and of lower income and education attainment.”
According to the web site ThinkProgress, "The district court concluded that the burden on Plaintiffs was “particularly high” because their members, supporters, and constituents represent a large percentage of those who participated in early voting in past elections. The State did not dispute the evidence presented by Plaintiffs, nor did it offer any evidence to contradict the district court’s findings of fact. Plaintiffs did not need to show that they were legally prohibited from voting, but only that “burdened voters have few alternate means of access to the ballot.”
The State argues that the burden on non-military voters is slight because they have “ample” other means to cast their ballots, including by requesting and mailing an absentee ballot, voting in person prior to the final weekend before Election Day, or on Election Day itself. However, the district court concluded that because early voters have disproportionately lower incomes and less education than election day voters, and because all evening and weekend voting hours prior to the final weekend were eliminated by Directive 2012-35, “thousands of voters who would have voted during those three days will not be able to exercise their right to cast a vote in person.”"
The state may still choose to appeal the decision to the full Sixth Circuit Court or to the US Supreme Court. A similar effort to disenfranchise up to 200,000 Ohio voters in 2008 was eventually blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court.
National Voter Registration Day was held on September 25, and it was enormously successful, with more than 8100 volunteers signing up nearly 280,000 new voters in 24 hours, and more still being tallied. If you registered yourself or other new voters on September 25 and you haven't reported the numbers, please take a moment to do so right here. To everyone who helped make National Voter Registration Day on September 25 such a triumph: Thank you!