By Stephanie King
In preparing for the 2020 general election, many political science faculty and civic educators are likely starting the year by educating college students about the electoral college, the importance of engaging in a presidential election and attending to down ballot races, and the voter registration process. Given COVID-19 and the transition to online-only or hybrid forms of teaching as well as the closure of many college campuses, the role of faculty in helping students navigate the voter registration and turnout process is more important now than ever before. Due to the need of social distancing, many students won’t have the ability to attend in-person voter registration events or to gather together to watch presidential debates as they would have in years past.
Complicating matters are the numerous shifts in regulations around vote-by-mail, and the need for absentee ballot requests that change (at times daily). To support higher education administrators and faculty in adapting to these changes, the nonpartisan, nonprofit initiative ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge has created a one-stop shop voting portal: allintovote.org. This free site provides students with tools to pledge to vote, register to vote, confirm their voter registration, determine how and where to vote, and understand what is on their ballot. The site is organized around the tenets of register, plan, learn, get involved, and take the pledge.
To encourage engagement in the 2020 general election, faculty can share the allintovote.org portal and foster student voter preparedness by:
- including important election dates in the syllabus;
- taking 15 minutes out of a class session to allow students to register to vote, or to check their registration status on the site;
- encouraging discussion about issues and candidates during class; and
- providing space for students to make a plan to vote and to take advantage of early voting in person or voting on election day.
The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge (ALL IN) is a national nonpartisan initiative of Civic Nation, a 501(c)(3) organization. Established in 2016, the ALL IN Challenge has grown to more than 730 participating campuses in 49 states plus DC with a reach of more than 8 million students. ALL IN now also manages active state-level challenges with Secretary of State offices in Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge provides structure, support, and recognition for campuses institutionalizing civic learning, political engagement, and student voter participation. To encourage engagement regardless of whether your campus is in-person, virtual, or operating in a hybrid model, the ALL IN to Vote tool is a one-stop shop for campuses and students to navigate the voting process. This nonpartisan tool was developed by the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge in partnership with the creative agency Big Spaceship to help college students navigate the voting process. ALL IN to Vote covers all 50 states and Washington, DC and is powered by Vote.org and BallotReady’s CivicEngine. To learn more about the allintovote.org portal and how to organize virtual peer-to-peer text banking events on campus using the ALL IN to Vote tool, visit our website here.
Stephanie King is a guest contributor for the RAISE the Vote Campaign. The views expressed in the posts and articles featured in the RAISE the Vote campaign are those of the authors and contributors alone and do not represent the views of APSA.
Stephanie King is the director of strategic initiatives for the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. She previously held the role of director for civic engagement and knowledge community initiatives at NASPA where she directed the NASPA LEAD Initiative and co-managed/co-created the Voter Friendly Campus program. King has worked in higher education since 2009 in the areas of student activities, orientation, residence life, and civic learning and democratic engagement. She earned her MA in psychology at Chatham University and her BS in biology from Walsh University. She has contributed to a few publications including Effective Strategies for Supporting Student Civic Engagement (May 2018) and Higher Education’s Role in Enacting a Thriving Democracy: Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Theory of Change (June 2018). King also serves as an Election Clerk for the Town of Dedham in Massachusetts.