Campus administrators understand that getting students information on how to register to vote is a critical first step in ensuring young people are engaged in elections. CIRCLE (The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement) found that young people who are registered to vote turn out in high numbers, very close to the rate of older voters (2010). Having information about how, when and where to vote can help young people be and feel prepared to vote. CIRCLE’s study in 2010 also found that, “registration is sometimes a larger hurdle than the act of voting itself. Thus showing young people where to get reliable information on registration is helpful.” Providing transportation to the polls, handing out candidate guides and showing a school-wide commitment to electoral engagement all help young voters make it out on election day.
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology recently sent a link to all students with information on voter registration as well as hosted debate watch parties in their Student Lounges. Students who vote in the primaries can bring their “I voted sticker/notice” to school and submit their name in a lottery to win a gift card. National Louis University will be hosting an afternoon ‘teach-in’ that will focus on Voting 101. They will have presentations from their faculty and guest speakers on voter registration, candidate issues and the impact both locally and nationally of the election. University of Illinois-Springfield has hosted debate watch parties as well as put information in their student newspaper and around campus encouraging students to vote in the Primary.
There are numerous examples from schools across the state where they are working to get students engaged and excited about the state and national elections. Regardless of an election outcome, the ultimate goal is for students to become lifelong electoral participants. CEEP is working hard to help schools take responsibility for getting their students to register, volunteer in campaigns, educate themselves on candidates and issues, navigate new voter laws, and turn out at the polls. Illinois has an exciting senate race coming up as well as many other local elections that impact student’s financial aid and the schools budget. CEEP along with the hardworking school administrators, faculty and students have been preparing long before this election cycle to help students become electorally engaged and we are more than excited to see a strong young voter turnout here in Illinois!
Illinois Outreach Director