11 days

There are only 11 days left until the election, and I’m back with another update on how the Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project is pulling out all the stops to make sure young people are registered and have a plan to vote.

Every day, our team is seeing more evidence that young people continue to be fired up and ready to make their voices heard. Data from TargetSmart shows that 4.2 million 18-29 year-olds have already voted, compared to 1.4 million at this point in 2016. Youth voter turnout has tripled compared to this time in 2016 (overall turnout is up 45%), and youth vote share is also up compared to 2016. Given that young people tend to be Election Day voters, this is very encouraging, but there’s much more work to be done. With many voter registration deadlines behind us, we’re pivoting to helping every voter on our campuses cast their ballot safely.

Florida PIRG student leader Alex Gordon moderates a conversation on youth voting with St. Petersburg, FL Mayor Rick Kriseman, St. Petersburg College student government president Darren Shay and St. Petersburg Director of Education Leah McRae. 

This fall, we’re organizing on campuses that enroll 2 million college and university students.

While most of these students know about Election Day, they aren’t familiar with what can be a very complicated voting process. For example, in some states, whether your student ID is a valid voter ID completely depends on the county a student is voting in. In others, you can drop off a mail-in ballot at an early voting location but not on Election Day.

So how do you get this information out to every student on campus? Across the country we’ve partnered with more than 600 campus stakeholders, and we’re activating every single one of them to tell students how they can vote early.

We’re also sharing three videos far and wide this week (via YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) on what professorscampus staff and administrators, and student group leaders can do to get out the vote over the next two weeks. Produced with our friends at the Andrew Goodman Foundationthese videos feature people who are leading effective civic engagement campaigns at colleges and universities including the University of Michigan, UCLA, University of North Carolina – Pembroke, and the University of Florida.

One-on-one outreach

Though we’re aiming to reach as many students as possible, it’s peer-to-peer, one-on-one outreach that will create first-time voters. For students juggling midterms, jobs as essential workers, and remote class fatigue, being contacted by someone in their community can make the difference between whether they cast their ballot or not.

This week, our team partnered with the ALL IN Challenge, Vote.org, and others to host nightly textbanks with famous folks such as actress Emma Stone and La La Land director Damien Chazelle. On the first night, students texted more than 7,500 of their friends to remind them to vote.

This Saturday, October 24, is Vote Early Day, and we’re making a big push to make sure students are turning in their ballots on time to make sure they get counted. We’re a premier partner with Vote Early Day, and we’re organizing phone banks, text banks, and friend outreach “couch parties.” So far this week, we’ve scheduled more than 4,000 call shifts. Overall, more than 2,500 local and national organizations will be working to get out the (early) vote this Saturday.

Black Voices Change Lives

Finally, in Florida, the Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project launched a joint project with the NAACP’s College and Youth Division to leave no voter behind this fall. This effort is part of the NAACP’s Black Voices Change Lives project. Polling this summer found that, compared to other races and ethnicities in their age group, 18- to 29-year-old Black voters were the least likely to have seen information about voting by mail.

The campaign was launched in partnership with data science firm GSSA to recruit high-propensity Black voters as volunteers to encourage low-frequency Black voters to vote. Over the next two weeks, PIRG and NAACP chapters at colleges and universities across Florida are planning joint trainings and events to reach out to potential voters. Read our full press release here.

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.
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.