-For Immediate Release-
Nationwide – Americans are turning out to vote early in record numbers this election and young people (ages 18-29) are already turning out in historic rates. These totals are dramatically outpacing turn-out rates from 2016 and 2018 in several states. While the overall increase is due in large part to the focus on voting by mail in many states, students have also been at the forefront of the effort to organize their peers on college campuses. The Student PIRGs New Voters Project, one of the country’s oldest and largest youth-led voter mobilization efforts, has been working in 17 states to register and mobilize students to vote.
Between Saturday and Election Day, the Student PIRGs New Voters Project will host get-out-the-vote virtual events with hundreds of volunteers. The states are: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin
Despite challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 2,000 student interns and volunteers from more than 100 college campuses are involved in the effort. Activities have shifted from clipboards to Google docs; and from holding signs at in-person rallies to speaking in front of virtual backgrounds on Zoom calls. Between now and the election, these election advocates plan to organize massive virtual phone banks to answer questions and provide all the resources needed for their peers to vote.
Among the resources, the Student PIRGs New Voters Project has created “How to Vote in Person Guide,” a comprehensive and easily accessible how-to guide for youth voters with questions about how to cast their ballots.
In addition to the events and the guide, the following student organizers are available for interviews and comments on various election and get-out-the-vote subjects:
Johanna Hussain, WISPIRG Students, University of Wisconsin – Madison
With a spike in COVID-19 cases causing uncertainty in the first weeks of the school year, Johanna led the effort to register and educate hundreds of students at UW-Madison. WISPIRG students created a Student Basic Needs Guide that connects students to local resources to help them navigate food insecurity, housing challenges, and casting their ballot safely this election.
Connect with Johanna for perspective on ways students are educating their peers about COVID-19 response resources for students.
Oriana Holmes-Price, NJPIRG Students, Rutgers University
In New Jersey, students have run Friends Help Friends Vote actions. The program features students gathering on Zoom to call and text their friends to vote using StudentVote.org. This student-friendly voter registration tool, which is a newly established option in New Jersey, makes it easy for first-time voters to register.
Connect with Oriana for perspective on how students are working with diverse coalitions on campus and helping students navigate online registration for the first time.
Deja Mason, Georgia PIRG Students, Spelman College
Deja has worked with students across the Atlanta metro area to register and turn young people out to vote. During National Voter Registration Day, she, along with others, planned a large educational panel to teach students about best voter registration and mobilization practices in communities of color. Speakers include student leaders, Spelman College professors, and local election officials.
Connect with Deja for perspective on organizing in diverse campus communities.
Niamh Harrop, Florida PIRG Students, University of Central Florida
Niamh helped organize a statewide Phone-a-thon on Vote Early Day (10/24) to assist students in making plans to vote. Hundreds of student volunteers and organizers spent more than 400 hours calling and texting registered voters and more than 1,000 of them made their own plan to vote or committed to reminding their friends to cast their ballots. Florida PIRG Students also launched a partnership with NAACP, the nation’s largest and most highly recognized civil rights organization, to turn out young people of color in the state.
Connect with Nimah for a perspective on how students are organizing massive calling and texting efforts to help turn out the youth vote.
Meghan Young, PIRGIM Students, University of Michigan
Marissa and PIRGIM Student interns have worked with the Michigan secretary of state’s office to educate thousands of students on how to safely cast a ballot by mail. Since July, she helped collect pledges to vote safely from more than 500 students around Michigan. They are also working with local NAACP Youth & College chapters to run a series of educational events on National Voter Registration Day.
Connect with Marissa for perspective on how students are educating their peers about safe voting practices, including vote by mail.
Hannah Varnell, NCPIRG Students, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
In response to COVID-19, the state established online voter registration earlier this year so North Carolinians could register to vote safely. Chase helped NCPIRG register hundreds of students in North Carolina by promoting NCStudentVote.org, a one-stop resource for students to register to vote and get information about voting. On National Voter Registration Day, Chase worked with coalition groups on campus to organize fun virtual events to help students to register, including an “Exercise your Right to Vote” event to help students stay physically active and register to vote at the same time.
Connect with Chase for perspective on registering students online and using online tools such as StudentVote.org.
Nic Riani, CALPIRG Students, University of California – Los Angeles
Nic has helped make the UCLA CALPIRG chapter a statewide leader in voter registration and voter turnout. By building a large and diverse coalition of student groups, college athletes, faculty and administrators at UCLA, the student voter turnout rate more than tripled from 14 percent in the 2014 midterm elections to 45 percent in 2018. For National Voter Registration Day, the UCLA chapter worked closely with the California secretary of state’s office to promote the Ballot Bowl, a friendly competition designed to encourage universities and colleges to engage students in the democratic process and register them to vote.
Connect with Nic for a student perspective on how students are building diverse coalitions on college campuses to help turn out the youth vote.
For information on these events or to talk to student leaders, please contact Manny Rin at [email protected]/opentextbookalliance
|The Student PIRGs voter registration and turnout effort is part of its New Voters Project campaign, one of the largest nonpartisan youth voter mobilization efforts in the country. The Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project has run peer-to-peer student voter mobilization drives to turn out the youth vote on college campuses for more than 30 years. Its philosophy is that the full participation of young people in the political process is essential to a truly representative, vibrant democracy. The New Voters Project does not endorse, either explicitly or implicitly, a political candidate or political party for elected office.|