ORGANIZING A CAMPUS TO VOTE – A CONCISE GUIDEThe best place to start when getting together a campus vote initiative is the Campus Compacts2012 Campus Election Engagement Project because it has some great voter engagementresources. With that website, the Your Vote, Your Voice website, and the resources contained inthis package, this should be all you need to conduct a nonpartisan effort to register students tovote, help them think through relevant issues, and encourage them to volunteer in the variouscampaigns.Use existing organizing resources: This is very important because there is no reason foreverybody to recreate the wheel at each campus. People have spent many hours puttingresources such as this one together. Doing a simple google search of “youth voting” or “collegevoting” will turn up thousands of hits. Make sure you check out 2012 Campus ElectionEngagement Projects resources, it offers great examples, explanations, and templates. Also, usethe checklist in this packet and the complementary Your Vote, Your Voice to summarize keyapproaches.Pick departments/organizations to engage and identify potential contacts. Once you have asense of the available resources and useful approaches, figure out which departments andorganizations you want to engage. Your initial contact list might be just the people you know,but that is a good starting point. Don’t forget to tap into all different groups on and off campus,including administrators, staff, faculty, students, and the surrounding community. You maywant to contact the local mayor’s office, city council, local political leaders, and definitely yourcounty elections board.Establish communications: To coordinate within your election engagement group, set upregular mechanisms to share information through email, phone calls, meetings, and onlineinteractive tools. You want to make one individual your prime contact person, but having abackup in case you cant reach them.Help your school fulfill its legal mandate: Campus Compacts Campus Vote Initiative is basedon tried and tested approaches, so engaging your school should be straightforward. If a keydepartment or office resists, remember that postsecondary institutions are legally required to dotheir best to distribute voter registration forms to each degree or certificate seeking student theyenroll, so youre helping them to take that mandate seriously.Integrate into current activities – then expand your efforts (create an action plan): Find outwhats already happening on your campus. Identify gaps in current efforts and figure outtogether what would be feasible and effective. Build a team involving as many of the key officesand departments as possible, in addition to anyone else who wants to help. Most campuses havesome logical starting places – the community service center, the office of student affairs, or thestudent government. You may not know all the key people at first, but one office can usually
lead you to another. If you get enough energetic people involved, together you can engage all thenecessary offices and departments and follow up to ensure theyre doing all they need to.Help students volunteer – whatever their political views: As youre ensuring that everypossible student is registered, you can also create opportunities for them to reflect on theirpolitical choices. Pass out information on local campaigns, encourage students to become pollworkers, or recruit students to help in your effort. This involvement can be particularlyimportant, because once students start volunteering in these kinds of efforts, they tend tocontinue throughout their lives. You can help students connect with groups like the CollegeRepublicans and College Democrats, or other on-campus efforts of political campaigns. Ifstudents feel that the winner of their state is a forgone conclusion, they can volunteer with thesesame national campaigns by calling voters in other states. They can also work for morecompetitive local races, such as city council, county council, or state legislature. Theseopportunities are often more meaningful than working on big national or statewide campaignsbecause a volunteer has an opportunity to see a great deal more. While your first priority shouldbe to make sure your school works to register all eligible students, your second should be toengage students with this election in all other ways you can, while respecting their diversity ofpolitical beliefs. The more you reach out, the more youll make it likely that both aspectssucceed.Use the mapping tool to connect with others: As a part of this effort, a mapping tool has beencreated to keep campuses connected with each other. Because this is a multi-campus effort, thistool will track which schools are participating and how they are participating. This will allowpeople to share ideas and collaborate. The tool is housed at http://www.campusvotemap.info/.You can fill out a form with your information and the information of your efforts to start sharingas soon as possible. The sooner you begin, the more impact youll have.Stay in touch: Feel free to contact me and let me know how things are going. I will help you inevery way possible. Be sure to stay in touch with all of the groups you are engaging on campusas well. Remember to send reminders to those taking the lead--persistently enough to movethings forward, but gently enough not to annoy people. If you have recruited someone to help ina particular function, make sure you always offer help.Start NOW – dont wait till fall: Organizing may be difficult during the summer, becausemany faculty, staff, students are away. To register and engage as many students as possible,however, schools will need a structure in place before students return for fall classes. This isparticularly true if you want to engage them (and register them to vote) during programs likefirst-year orientation. Start as quickly as you can, draw in more people as you go, and plan easyways for entering and returning students to jump in as soon as they arrive on your campus. Youmight even form an official on-campus group so you can ensure access to great resources.Start now: • Use the summer to prepare for fall, building structures and procedures for when students return. • Skim through the checklist and websites to get ideas for your campus – They have all the tools, models and templates you need. • See whats already going on and whos involved.
• Work with existing efforts and enlist other strong allies to help. • Identify gaps and consider ways to fill them, either through new initiatives or strengthening existing ones. • Contact faculty and administrators in charge of relevant offices or departments. • Involve student leaders. • Sign up on the mapping tool listed above. • Develop an action plan, using the wealth of available resources. • Share existing online resources and any new ones you find. • Follow-up to make sure key aspects dont fall through the cracks. • Spread relevant new materials, such as candidate and initiative information. • Work (where useful) with other nearby schools. • Have fun – youre engaging students in the core work of democracy!Thanks again for taking on this task, as we all know how important it is. Remember, start earlyand engage as many people as you can – even while many staff members and most students aregone during the summer. By fall, your efforts should be off and running, and you’ll be able toconcentrate on keep people motivated and expanding your efforts. Youll then have a very brieftwo months to engage those who haven’t gotten to yet. Remember that the official Floridamargin in 2000 was 537 votes, in New Mexico 368 votes, and the margin in the 2004Washington State Governors race, 129 votes. Whoever the students you help get engaged endup supporting, you never know the difference that they might make.