20 Days

Blog Post

We’re in the home stretch of this election—only 20 days left!—and young people are fired up. The nonpartisan Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project continues to do all we can to make sure young people are registered to vote and have a plan to get their ballot cast. Last week was quite the week, with voter registration deadlines in six of our states. I wanted to send a quick note on how our voter registration pushes went — read below for highlights from the week.

Young people want to vote, they just need help with the process. Making sure they don’t miss the voter registration deadline is the first step. That’s why our first strategy is reaching as many students as possible through messengers they trust. Our team of organizers working on 100 campuses went everywhere to find young people: 

  • Zoom class announcements, the Black Student Union group chat, Greek dinner announcements, the campus library’s Twitter, even the Instagram account for the campus raccoon at Eckerd College (@Diary_of_EC_PubCoon).
  • One student recruited someone they met on a cruise in February to phonebank with them.
  • The Georgia team worked with four local high schools to share StudentVote.org with their seniors. 
  • Many students got the people they phonebanked to not only register to vote, but to make announcements in the class they were in (don’t ask me why students pick up the phone during their Zoom classes) and drop StudentVote.org in their class chats.

In addition, our team made sure to activate communities with historically lower turnout based on data from the National Study of Learning Voting and Engagement (NSLVE). We built partnerships with clubs and departments representing students of color and students in majors that are least likely to turn out (math, engineering, and business).

Spotlight: Florida

Last Monday, on the voter registration deadline in Florida, the voter registration website crashed throughout the day. Not only were we able to serve as a source of information for local campus partners, but once the deadline was extended, we were able to reactivate the networks we’d built to notify students about the new extended deadline.

  • When we heard reports of the website crashing on Monday, we started tracking every case where a student had an issue with the website with timestamps and screenshots and Tweeted every new issue we encountered to the Secretary of State.
  • Our team connected a dozen students who couldn’t register to vote due to issues with the state’s website with reporters and lawyers from the Campaign Legal Center and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights so that their stories could be told.
  • When the deadline was extended, we notified more than 50,000 students through our faculty, club, Greek, and athletics partners on campuses. We mobilized 33 students and staff to hit the phones, completing 1,600+ dials, sending 3,300+ texts, holding more than 500 individual conversations, and helped 300 students register to vote.

What’s next

Our team in these states will now shift their vote coalitions and armies of student activists to GOTV and let students know about their vote by mail and early voting options. Meanwhile, we still have many voter registration deadlines coming up and we’ll take the lessons we learned to the next set of deadlines (Wisconsin is today!).

About The Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project
PIRG New Voters Project, Inc. is a non-partisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization with 4945(f) status. We work on 100 campuses across the country to activate the largest voting bloc in the country. Young people continue to be underrepresented in our democracy, so we work to make sure every student has the opportunity to have their voice heard in our elections by building a culture of civic engagement on college campuses. We engage students, faculty, and administrators to build lasting systems of voter engagement for the long term.

Since 1984, our field based, non-partisan effort helped to register over 2 million young people and make over 3 million Get out the Vote contacts reminding young people where, when, and how to vote. We have tested new field models to ensure we are running the most effective civic engagement program possible. One study of our program showed that 76.3 percent of the voters we helped to register turned out to the polls, among the highest rates of all non-partisan voter registration efforts. 68.8 percent of voters we helped to register were brand-new registrants, making the project one of the most effective ways to bring new voters into the electoral process.
About The Student PIRGs
Students have the right and the responsibility to shape the future we will inherit. Our program spans over 100 campuses in 22 states of which 35 campuses have self-funding programs, that provide the training, professional support and resources students need to tackle climate change, protect public health, revitalize our democracy, feed the hungry and more. Students have been at the forefront of social change throughout history, from civil rights, to voting rights to protecting the environment. For almost 50 years we’ve helped our campus communities get organized, mobilized and energized so they can continue to be on the cutting edge of positive change. Every year, over 4,000 students gain hands-on experience in organizing and activism by volunteering with us to generate 150,000 grassroots actions.