LET’S GET EVERYONE READY TO VOTE
A key part of any robust campus voter mobilization campaign is a voter registration drive.
In Pennsylvania, voters can only vote at their assigned polling location. It’s important to register early. Pennsylvania does not have same-day registration.
Register to vote early! The deadline to register to vote or update your voter registration information is 15 days before each election day.
AVOID THE HASSLE:
FILL those forms out right THE FIRST TIME
MAKING YOUR CHOICE OF VOTER REGISTRATION FORM
In Pennsylvania, voters can register to vote on paper or online. You can find voter registration applications and related information at the Pennsylvania Department of State website VotesPA.com.
THE PAPER WAY
There are benefits to having voters register on paper. It takes less time for a voter to complete a paper form than an online one. With paper forms, you don’t have to worry about having laptops or mobile devices at your table for prospective voters to use (or lose.) Pennsylvania law allows you to copy voter registration forms before you turn them in, which makes it easy to keep new voters’ contact information. You could keep copies and make follow-up calls to voters to ensure they received their voter registration cards and to remind them to vote.
You can pick up a stack of voter registration forms at your county board of elections or request them from the Department of State. Each paper form contains instructions for completing and submitting it. It also contains a sealable mail-back section, eliminating the need for an envelope. Want to print them yourself? You can print a stack of voter registration forms using Download the voter registration form PDF.
THE DIGITAL WAY
You can also have voters register to vote online. This way, you don’t have to mail the voter registration forms back or drop them off at your county courthouse. The registration process is a bit faster this way.
Voters can receive a confirmation of their application when they provide their email address.
Please note: new voters without a Pennsylvania driver’s license or ID card will need to upload a photo of their signature or mail one in to complete the application.
REGISTER VOTERS ON CAMPUS IN THE WAY THAT’S BEST FOR YOUR TEAM
TIPS FOR TABLING
When registering voters at a table or tent on campus, it’s best to have at least two volunteers during each shift. Be friendly and assertive, but not aggressive. If you just sit at the table without saying much, you’re probably not going to register a lot of voters. If you actively engage students as they walk past, you could register 40 or more new voters during one shift. The key question to ask is, “are you registered to vote at your current address?”
When you’re running a voter registration table, you want to look like you’re having fun. You should be engaging. Balloons, colorful signs, candy and small giveaways are a great addition.
More important than the table, promotional literature, and giveaways are the volunteers and staff working the table. Be sure the volunteers know the answers to frequently-asked questions, and know who to call with more detailed questions. Encourage them to actively engage students.
Before a voter leaves your table, look over their form to make sure it’s accurate and and complete. Have voters fix or complete any missing information. If you’re using official printed Pennsylvania forms, perforate it at the edge, circle their county’s board of elections phone number, and the page back to them. Suggest that they call their local board of elections if they don’t get their voter registration card in the next two to four weeks.
Picture this: you’ve set up your voter registration table at the main campus dining hall. You have three volunteers staffing the table. One is looking down at her phone. The other two are chatting about the upcoming football game. How many new students do you think they will get registered to vote?
Now imagine this: you have your voter information tent outside in the campus quad. Hannah, a blond, energetic sophomore, stands in front of the table and cheerfully asks students if they are registered to vote at their campus address. Matthew, a senior member of the football team, offers passers-by an “I’m Registered to Vote” sticker and asks, “what questions do you have about voting? Do you know where you’re supposed to vote?”
Which team do you think would get more students registered to vote? Which would be the most effective campaign?
Make your table exciting and engaging. You can also request resources from PA Colleges Vote that may help you.
IN-CLASSROOM VOTER REGISTRATION
If asked, many professors will allow students to register to vote while in class. You can send two volunteers into a large freshman class, take over the class for 10 to 15 minutes, and walk out with dozens of completed voter registration forms.
Setting these sessions up with individual faculty members is key. Personal relationships help, so they trust that the process will go smoothly and remain non-partisan. Preparing a short slide presentation to accompany the voter registration drive with tips on completing the form would help, too.
PROMOTING ONLINE VOTER REGISTRATION
The best college voter campaigns encourage students to register in person or online. Work with PA Colleges Vote and your school’s Student Affairs and marketing and communications divisions to encourage people to register. Incorporate calls to action using digital assets around the university.
Here are some ideas that other colleges and universities have used.
- Highlight voter registration in your college’s email newsletter.
- Include a prompt about registering to vote in your class registration system. Make it part of the process.
- Contact the student newspaper about writing a story on upcoming elections.
- Create a hashtag unique to your school’s voter registration drive.
- Take the stage before concerts and other popular events to get people fired up out voting.
- Get your school’s mascot into the act. Don that costume and have students vote at sporting events and on campus.
Create a dedicated page on your college website with voting information specific to your campus. When students register online by themselves, you can’t have a volunteer look over the form before it’s submitted. So do the next best thing: record a video showing how to use the online form. For a good example, check out this school’s voter information page and video.
For further reading, check out the Votes PA guide to running a voter registration drive in Pennsylvania.
You can help make a difference by making voting part of the culture at your college or university. Outreach with voter registration campaigns can make all the difference.
Let’s create something together.