YOU’VE GOT 13 HOURS TO GET EVERYONE TO THE POLLS
IN PENNSYLVANIA, POLLS ARE OPEN FROM 7:00 A.M. TO 8:00 P.M.
Getting out the vote on campus can be an “all hands on deck” situation for the several days leading up to the election. But if you’re prepared and organized, it can be a piece of cake.
By the time you get close to Election Day, you have built your team and registered hundreds of voters. Your campus communication plan is in full stride, and messages to students are going out like clockwork. Now, you’re ready to drive students to the polls (sometimes, literally!).
Make it fun. Turn it into a party. Get as many students to the polls as you can.
T-4 DAYS: IT’S THE WEEKEND
Getting out the vote on campus can be a weeks-long effort, but let’s talk about the countdown to Election Day. These days are crucial for ensuring a good turnout at the polls.
Some people call the weekend before Election Day “get out the vote weekend.” Since the deadline to register to vote in Pennsylvania is 15 days before election day, you can spend those final two weeks mobilizing students who are registered to vote.
Are there weekend events already planned for the campus community that you can attend to contact voters? Major campus events are set weeks in advance, so this is something you can plan for. One college campus in western Pennsylvania booked a national comedy act the day before Election Day. The line to get in the door snaked across campus. It made for a great opportunity for volunteers with clipboards to work the line and have conversations with voters.
You can also schedule a major campus party with a voting-related theme. Book a DJ, offer free pizza, and include activities that get people in the door. Co-sponsor your event with several large campus organizations. Make it fun, but also focus on your mission: elections and voting. Spending a few hundred dollars on a Saturday night party can increase enthusiasm for getting out to the polls.
Hand out stickers and get as many students to sign commit to vote cards as you can.
There may not be quite as much foot traffic in the academic areas on campus over the weekend. Dining halls, the campus library, and larger residence halls make for good locations.
CONTACT STUDENTS DIRECTLY
Nothing beats being able to contact specific students by phone, text, email, and social media and provide the voting information they need.
Did you collect contact information from students during your voter education campaigns and voter registration drives? If so, you can use these lists. You can also call voters using the Pennsylvania voter file, which is public information. You can get the full list through the Department of State or ask to see if your local boards of elections can generate a list for you. (They may have limitations on the types of lists they can generate, which vary by county.)
CHALK THE WALK
Sunday afternoon is a great time to decorate the sidewalks with voting messages, hashtags, websites, and phone numbers around campus. Sidewalk chalk costs only a few dollars and could be worth the investment. If the weather is nice, most of your messages should last through Election Day.
Be sure to add something unique to your college. If you’ve established hashtags of your own, include them. If your university has a mascot or slogan, try to tie it into your theme.
Here are some general ideas.
- Get Out and Vote
- Polls Open Tuesday, 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
- Am I registered? Where to vote? Check votespa.com.
- Problems at the Polls? Call 1-866-OURVOTE
- This year, #everybodyvote #votespa
- Polling Location, This Way (arrows to on-campus polling locations)
- Voting Information (chalk near your voting information table or tent)
T-1 DAY: MONDAY
It’s the last full day of class before Election Day. It’s your opportunity to really shine.
If you have enough people, start setting up your voter registration table right when classes start at 8:00 a.m. You could give away coffee and donuts to those walking past. If you don’t have money to spend, ask local restaurant owners or your campus dining services if they could donate to your cause. It never hurts to ask. Many local businesses enjoy supporting community service efforts.
Just like other daylong tabling events, plan for shifts of people at your table, including volunteers, interns, faculty, and staff. As long as you have enough people, you could turn the day before Election Day into a full 12-hour day with shifts three to four hours long. This could cover the day’s worth of classes, the dinner hour at a dining hall, and maybe even an evening campus event.
BLAST OFF: IT’S ELECTION DAY!
In Pennsylvania, polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. You have 13 hours to get students to the polls.
You’ll probably answer a lot of student questions on Election Day. Even if you did your best to get the word out, some students still won’t know where to vote on Election Day. Others won’t know if they are registered at all.
You can look up a voter’s status and polling location on votespa.com. If you’d like a hard copy of the names of all voters at your campus polling locations, ask your county boards of elections. You can also purchase a list of all Pennsylvania voters from the Department of State for just $20. If you get the full export from the Department of State, plan to spend time formatting the data into a usable list for your area.
Have the phone number of your local boards of elections on hand to answer election questions you don’t know the answer to.
PA Colleges Vote can get you a list of voters for your area. Just ask us.
ELECTION NIGHT WATCH PARTY
Especially during presidential election years, you may want to consider throwing an election night watch party for the campus community. This can be a good way to thank your volunteers and promote upcoming events.
IT’S NEVER NOT ELECTION SEASON
In a four year span, there will be at least eight elections in Pennsylvania. Sometimes there is an additional special election to fill a vacancy. Add in races for student government, and there are usually 12 elections in which students can vote. Early in the spring semester, candidates circulate nominating petitions to get on the primary ballot. And it’s never too early to register to vote.
Because of this, it’s never not election time in Pennsylvania. A continual emphasis on educating students about elections can help to change your campus culture from a culture of apathy to a culture of voting.
One voice can change a campus. One campus can change a community. One community can change a county. One county can make the difference in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania can change the nation. And together, we can change the world.
Contact PA Colleges Vote today. We can help you to change the world.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”Margaret Mead