As efforts to restrict voting have risen in states across the U.S., Voter Friendly Campus report tracks how universities across the country are innovating to increase student civic engagement
NATIONWIDE - The Voter Friendly Campus designation program, started by Fair Election Center’s Campus Vote Project and NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, has released its 2022 report. Amid state level attempts to make it harder to vote, especially for college students, this report shows how higher education institutions are stepping up to encourage their students to vote and support civic engagement.
The report celebrates the accomplishments of 262 Voter Friendly Campus designees, analyzes common barriers to voting students face, and presents solutions for improving future democratic engagement activities on college campuses. This year’s report focuses on how campuses have supported students to stay involved in the democratic process as legislative attacks on voting defined 2022. The report includes numerous case studies that demonstrate not just the unique range of barriers young people face to voting, but the solutions available to overcome them:
Overcoming Barriers: Montclair State University is located across two different legislative districts, a dynamic that causes confusion for where students should cast their ballots. Along with pandemic-related concerns, this has led to low voter turnout in past elections. To overcome this barrier,the university’s administration has established innovative systems for getting personalized voting information to students and educating students virtually on vote-by-mail options.
Spotlighting Voter Registration: Despite being located in a county with a voter registration rate of just 55%, UNC-Pembroke has a voter registration rate of 89% on its campus, a level reached by prioritizing voter registration at all major campus events like move in day, Welcome Week, and sporting events.
Defending Democracy: Florida A&M University wants to make civic engagement a part of the culture on their campus. They invite alumni who work in politics or democracy defense to come back to campus to speak, highlight the history of civic engagement accomplishments of HBCUs, and work voter education programming into major events like Homecoming.
“While we are seeing an alarming number of state legislatures introduce and pass legislation aimed at making it harder to vote, it has been reassuring to see the effort higher education institutions are showing to help their students cast their ballots and get engaged in democracy,” said Mike Burns, National Director of Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project. “It is so important that students are able to make their voices heard and get civically involved early. Young voters make up the most diverse generation our country has ever seen and therefore making campuses voter friendly is how we make our elected leaders more representative of the population they serve.”
“Given the concentrated attacks on diversity, equity and inclusion work happening in states across the country, encouraging and supporting student civic engagement on campus is more critical now than ever,” said Kevin Kruger, NASPA President. “The campuses highlighted in this report and those that have earned the Voter Friendly Campus designation have clearly committed to ensuring students understand that their voices and perspectives matter in the political process.”
# # #
The Voter Friendly Campus designation program was started through the partnership of Campus Vote Project and NASPA in 2016. The program aims to help institutions develop plans to coordinate administrators, faculty, and student organizations in civic and electoral engagement. The program operates and designates campuses as Voter Friendly on a two-year cycle.
Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project, established in 2012, works with universities, community colleges, faculty, students and election officials to reduce barriers to student voting and help campuses institutionalize reforms that empower students with the information they need to register and vote.
NASPA - Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education is the leading association for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession. Founded in 1919, NASPA comprises over 15,000 members in all 50 states, 25 countries, and 8 U.S. Territories. Through high-
quality professional development, strong policy advocacy, and substantive research to inform practice, NASPA meets the diverse needs and invests in realizing the potential of all its members under the guiding principles of integrity, innovation, inclusion, and inquiry.