Five Resources for Planning This Election Season and Beyond

Simpson College Vote Everywhere team prepares for a tabling and voter registration event.

Across the country, Vote Everywhere is gearing up to make young voices and votes count this November. According to a Spring 2018 poll, conducted by undergraduates involved in the Harvard Public Opinion Project of the Institute of Politics, over 37 percent of young people, ages 18-29, “definitely will be voting” in the 2018 Midterm Elections. While our gaze is focused on the Midterms, we know that our efforts don’t start and stop with elections. Removing voting impediments, advancing student political equity, and cultivating the next generation of informed and engaged civic actors is an ongoing and formidable undertaking.

Shaun King delivers keynote speech at 2018 Hidden Heroes Award Ceremony at the National Civic Leadership Training Summit.

At this year’s National Civic Leadership Training Summit, civil rights activist and journalist Shaun King emphasized that an energized network of leaders committed to a cause takes you only so far. He encouraged the Andrew Goodman Foundation Vote Everywhere network to get organized, unlock resources, and perhaps most importantly, develop “sophisticated plan[s] that match the magnitude of the problem.”

As you craft or fine tune your Campus Action Plans for Democratic Engagement for this academic year, rest assured that you have a myriad of resources at your disposal. In fact, your Vote Everywhere toolbox has grown! Each of the five resources highlighted below provides valuable information, guidance, and inspiration, which can help you and your team to navigate your civic leadership roles on campus this semester—and beyond.

  1. Not surprisingly, our resource recommendation is the Vote Everywhere Ambassador Handbook. With so many new Ambassadors and Champions in the Vote Everywhere ranks this fall, the Handbook is essential reading. Even if you are a seasoned Vote Everywhere representative, open the updated 2018-2019 Handbook to review your role and responsibilities, read the guiding principles that underpin our collective work, and think through building your Vote Everywhere brand on campus. The sections on campus action planning, non-partisanship, and promising practices have been updated with important guidance for your voter registration institutionalization, GOTV, voter education, civic education, and advocacy initiatives. If at any point you need some inspiration, turn to the case studies section to see what kind of impact your campus team can and will have.

2. Election Imperatives: Ten Recommendations to Increase College Student Voting and Improve Political Learning and Engagement in Democracy, by The Institute of Democracy & Higher Education at Tuft’s University’s Tisch College of Civic Life, is a must read this semester. Review your Campus Action Plan alongside the report’s recommendations and see how you measure up. You may decide to modify a few of your Vote Everywhere goals, strategies, or tactics. You should also leverage the report to lend credibility to your civic engagement initiatives. The report calls on campuses to remove barriers to student voting, develop informed voters, use NSLVE data to understand student engagement and disengagement, support student activism and leadership, and to talk politics across campus—all strategies core to the Vote Everywhere program model. The report is also full of links to additional resources, such as the Right to Vote wheel co-developed by the AGF and much, much more!

3. This academic year, Campus Teams have more digital and technological resources at their fingertips than ever before. For starters, each Vote Everywhere campus now has a customized campus voter information portal— Developed by a former Ambassador, makes it easier for students to register to vote, request absentee ballots, understand voter ID laws in their states, find their polling places, and learn about candidates and ballot questions in their localities. Five campus partners are participating in a texting pilot, which aims to increase the reach and impact of Vote Everywhere on these campuses. If the pilot is successful, a texting platform will be made available to all campus partners next academic year. If that wasn’t enough good news, we have also developed a Communications Toolkit, a Texting Pilot Communications Toolkit, and various images, social media images, QR codes, and website buttons to support rollout efforts.

4. Vote Everywhere is a premier partner for National Voter Registration Day (NVRD) again this year. Last year 76% of Vote Everywhere Campus Teams partnered and participated in NVRD, and we’re aiming for even more this year. While many teams are already well on their way with NVRD plans, if you’re stuck, you can check out a new resource called: The Campus Takeover Toolkit: How to Create Successful National Voter Registration Day Events at Colleges and Universities. Developed by Young Invincibles and the Alliance for Youth Organizing, the toolkit is a step-by-step guide to planning and executing a successful voter registration event on your campus. With this resource, the support of your Vote Everywhere Program Manager, VE and NVRD swag, the creative ideas in our new blog on how to host a successful NVRD, your events will surely be successful.

5. Vote Everywhere is enthused to announce its partnership with #VoteTogether, an initiative of Civic Nation. #VoteTogether works with local organizations to make voting community-driven and celebratory. Local celebrations are planned adjacent to polling sites and have been shown to increase voter participation by two to six percentage points. #VoteTogether has put together a comprehensive planning guide and is hosting weekly calls to support these events. Approximately six Vote Everywhere Campus Teams have signed up to organize a community celebration, and there is still time to sign up. Soon, Vote Everywhere, in conjunction with Students Learn Student Vote, will facilitate the disbursement of a limited amount of funding to Campus Teams. If you are interested please reach out as soon as possible to your Program Manager.

This fall’s Midterm Elections are of utmost importance, and we know that our Vote Everywhere Campus Teams are up to the challenge of creating Campus Action Plans that fit the significance of this election season. With these five resources at their disposal and our pledged support and guidance, our passionate and dedicated Ambassadors will be unstoppable in registering and turning out young voters and in laying the foundation for sustained and enhanced political learning and engagement.

About the Author

Karena Cronin is the Program Director of Vote Everywhere, The Andrew Goodman Foundation’s flagship youth and democracy initiative. She spent the last 10 years in South Africa, working with local and international non-profit organizations such as CIVICUS and Charities Aid Foundation Southern Africa. She holds a B.A. cum laude (Political Science and Sociology) from Union College and a Master of International Affairs (Economic and Political Development) from Columbia University.