Founding Fifteen Campus Connections: Binghamton University

This year, AGF is celebrating ten years of impact with the Andrew Goodman Vote Everywhere Program. One of “Founding Fifteen” campuses, the Campus Team at Binghamton University reflected on the past ten years and their hopes for the future of civic engagement on the campus in Binghamton, New York.

Binghamton University has been an Andrew Goodman Vote Everywhere campus since the program began back in 2014! What barriers to voting existed on campus prior to 2014?

Prior to 2014, support for student voters had not been institutionalized and students faced a number of barriers to registering and turning out to vote. For example, students often submitted voter registration forms with the campus address completed, incorrectly resulting in their registrations not being processed. There was confusion at the campus polling place, as students who had moved on campus would enter the line for their previous polling district. Some of our team’s priorities were to collaborate with the Broome County Board of Elections to develop a pre-populated on-campus registration form and to streamline the check-in process at the campus polling place. These changes alone made a big difference in addressing student voting barriers.

From what you know of how things were in 2014, when it comes to voting and civic engagement on campus, what are some of the most noticeable changes?

Some of the most notable changes since 2014 are related to the institutionalized nature of nonpartisan student voting support. Our team focused a lot of energy in our early years on reaching large numbers of students through existing campus processes. For example, we began offering voter registration at summer orientation in 2016. We present in dozens of classes each year and offer voter registration forms in partnership with private off-campus apartment complexes, among other initiatives. We have been successful in embedding this work within a professional office, the Center for Civic Engagement, which provides a consistent resource for students to access voting information and services.

How has the general campus’ perception of voting and civic engagement evolved since 2014?

We have seen clearly through our NSLVE data that more students are participating in the voting process. We have always had energy from students who are highly engaged, but since 2014 we have addressed important barriers that the average student faces in voting.

How has your Campus Team reflected on the legacy of Andrew Goodman, James Earl Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Freedom Summer 1964 over these ten years?

This legacy has remained a strong reminder of the importance of our work. Working as part of a network of student leaders and professionals who are all called to make our democracy stronger is a powerful inspiration for our actions.

What are some ways that the Andrew Goodman Vote Everywhere program has supported your efforts on campus to increase voter and civic engagement?

Our Andrew Goodman Ambassadors have really built our program. Having access to a national network for training and support, and the funding for both Ambassadors and program expenses have been critical to developing and sustaining our program.

What are your hopes and dreams for what civic engagement will look like on campus ten years from now?

Looking ahead to the next ten years, our primary goal is to exceed the national college student voting rate and cultivate a culture of habitual participation in civic life and political dialogue. This involves rebuilding relationships with student leaders, increasing voter turnout among students who traditionally vote at lower rates, enhancing our get-out-the-vote efforts and providing educational programs and resources to ensure students are informed voters. By focusing on these key areas, we aim to create an environment where students are actively engaged in the democratic process and empowered to make informed decisions at the polls.

What are the team’s main goals to increase and support voter engagement and turnout in 2024?

Our team’s primary objectives for increasing voter engagement and turnout in 2024 are to target academic departments with historically low voter turnout, collaborate with the campus Multicultural Resource Center on voter engagement initiatives and enlist the assistance of student leaders across campus to amplify our get-out-the-vote efforts.

Stay tuned as we continue our Campus Connections series, featuring each of our Andrew Goodman Vote Everywhere Campus Teams, the impact made on campus, and how they are living the legacy during this pivotal point in our nation’s history.