Best Practices/Election ideas from Individual Campuses

Below are examples of efforts by colleges and universities to promote election engagement around the 2012 presidential election.  Many of the initiatives were supported by CEEP resources.  

  • University of Mount Union (OH) faculty weaved voter registration and education into their courses—from political science, to first-year experience classes, to the business department.
  • Colorado State University and University of Colorado, Boulder competed to see who could register the most students resulting in 6,200 registrations.
  • University of Wisconsin Whitewater recruited 150 student "Voting Ambassadors" who helped register new voters by partnering with Student Government and the League of Women Voters.
  • Ohio Northern University facilitated “Dorm Storms” to register voters. Check out "Organizing a Dorm Storm" from PowerShift.
  • University of Colorado, Boulder created an “Exercise your Right to Vote” program that combined Zumba and Cardio Kickboxing with voter registration.  
  • Ohio State University worked to register staff such as janitors, food service workers and bus drivers.
  • Virginia Commonwealth University students, enrolled in the community service living-learning program ASPiRE, worked intensively with residents of Richmond’s Mosby Court public housing development to register them to vote. Learn more here.
  • Ohio State University hosts OSU Votes, a student-led movement to register, educate and encourage other students to vote. OSU distributed registration forms and collection boxes in all the residence halls, and produced a carnival called The All-American Event, with food, games, free t-shirts, and voter registration and education materials.
  • University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point worked with community and student Special Registration Deputies to register students to vote through tabling at high-traffic locations, which they advertised with fliers and posters, and through canvassing every residence hall on campus.
  • University of Northern Iowa hosted a "Voterpalooza" registration party event.
  • University of Wisconsin Milwaukee’s Student Association formed its own engagement coalition, with representatives from key campus groups. The coalition did ongoing tabling, held a Voter Registrar training led by the Milwaukee Election Commission and went into classrooms to register entire classes.
  • Washington Campus Compact developed and distributed posters with QR code links on voter registration and Facebook registration.
  • SUNY Geneseo registered freshmen at move-in.
  • Multiple campuses nationwide, including Elon University, UNC Charlotte and Wake Technical Community College in NC, are using TurboVote to inspire voter registration and participation. A few national examples include:

  • Washington Campus Compact developed and distributed posters with QR code links on voting requirements.
  • Bowling Green State University (OH) created a one-stop website where students could find voting-related materials, information and deadlines.
  • Ashland University (OH) supported student election engagement interns and voter information stations, drawing students in to election events with a raffle to giveaway TOMS shoes.
  • Western Piedmont Community College (NC) created a visible mock election booth on the college commons where students participated in “Pick the President Plinko” and watched a “Battle of the Champions” Presidential Candidate Faux Boxing Match.
  • Ohio State University produced a carnival called The All-American Event, with food, games, free t-shirts, and voter registration and education materials.
  • Miami-Dade College (FL) ordered 4,000 “This is Why I Vote” buttons with their Center for Engagement’s logo and a blank space where students, faculty, and staff wrote in why they were going to vote. Students then used these personalized responses to spark conversations on election topics they cared about.  The cost was about .25/button for regular order and .33/button for a rush order received in ~four days.  They ordered their buttons from the company below, but any similar company can make this:  Here is a poster they made that shows you what the buttons look like (again, the actual button’s white area is blank). 
  • Miami-Dade College also hosted “Decoding the ballot” events and issue dialogues throughout their branch campuses on subjects including the presidential debates and candidates, gun control, environmental issues, the state of American democracy, and whether ex-felons should be able to vote.
  • Lawrence University (WI) held an ongoing student engagement drive, culminating in a widely attended poll-watching party with live bands.
  • Indiana University, South Bend hosted presidential and vice presidential Debate Watch parties, as well as candidate debates for contested county races like probate judge, treasurer, and commissioner, and for the local Congressional race.
  • University of Miami (FL) hosted a “Healthcare Games” event where the College Democrats and Republicans debated the Affordable Health Care Act.
  • Wake Forest University (NC) sponsored “Wake the Vote” forums, dialogues and debates.
  • SUNY Geneseo academic departments collaborated to provide voter education resources, including creating a “Clean Up Your Act” voter information petition.
  • Michigan State University teamed up with the city of East Lansing to create a YouVote initiative with a website featuring voting rules, registration links, and information on local, state, and national races.
  • Franklin College (IN) had journalism students moderate a debate between local Congressional candidates that the school then integrated into classroom discussions.
  • Johnson & Wales University (CO) trained students as poll workers and held an election debate party with cakes featuring the candidates’ faces.
  • Santa Fe Community College (NM) joined with the city’s public radio and TV stations to create a series of 60-second ads on why youth voting matters.
  • University of Nevada, Reno's  journalism school organized a team of five graduate students and 20 undergraduates to design and launch a website, that provided statewide nonpartisan election information specifically tailored for students.
  • Florida Campus Compact created non-partisan Dialogue Guides on issues students considered important, like education, immigration, health care, and jobs and the economy, and integrated them into a "Conversation Starters" program of election-related dialogues that became a model for other states.
  • Elon University students, faculty and staff were asked, during weekly all-campus gatherings, to select the topics they’d most like debated. The responses were health care, same-sex marriage and the economy. Four debate teams were then created representing the Democratic, Republican, Independent and international perspectives and including students, faculty and staff members Over 400 students attended the debate.
  • Ohio Campus Compact printed large reusable cloth banners with the message "Your Vote Counts," and distributed them so the state’s major campuses could display them now and in the future.
  • SUNY Cortland faculty gave extra credit for attendance at the Debate-Watch event.
  • Indiana State University worked with the Terre Haute Children’s Museum to engage future voters and their parents by bringing election-related themes into a math encouragement program called “Go Figure.”On campus they also hosted a “Pizza and Politics” presidential Debate Watch party featuring a panel of faculty.
  • University of Wisconsin, Parkside held an Election Experience Class whose participants blanketed the campus with buttons and posters, and posted prominent Twitter and Facebook links.
  • Eastern Michigan University promoted campus-wide discussions on ballot proposals.
  • NC Campus Compact hosted a “Why I Plan to Vote” video contest, where campuses posted testimonial student videos about why voting matters.
  • College of Charleston (SC) the Dean of Students posted a resource page on their website to encourage student voting.
  • Greenfield Community College (MA) invited in their local State Representative as part of a series on "Why Voting Matters" and printed t-shirts saying “GCC students vote.”
  • Several campuses including Bowling Green State University (OH), Emory University (GA), and the University of Dayton (OH) have created webpages highlighting faculty with election-related expertise


  • Ohio State University secured an on-campus voting station.
  • Northern Virginia Community College purchased software that let them text-message sections of their 75,000-person student body with reminders of key electoral deadlines and other information. 
  • Kent State University (OH) hosted the Rock the Vote bus  and shuttled students to the polls.
  • SUNY Oswego’s Civic Engagement Office gave free t-shirts to students who wore Rock The Vote pins.
  • Regis University (CO) hosted a  "Get Out the Vote" event at the Denver Film Festival.
  • Blackfeet Community College and Little Big Horn College  (MT) held traditional tribal feasts as part of getting students out to the polls on Election Day.
  • University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee’s Student Association handed out rubber bracelets with a web-link to polling locations.
  • Grand Valley State University’s (MI) President sent out campus-wide email reminders.
  • University of Miami (FL)  re-routed campus shuttles to stop in front of polling sites, hosted tables outside their campus polling site where students could pick up sample ballots and review their voter status.
  • University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point held walkovers to City Hall once early voting began, tabled in the University Center with reminders, and assisted hundreds of students with their absentee ballot requests. On Election Day, 50 volunteers hosted poll lookups, coordinated with the Residence Hall Association to lead walkovers and provide voter van services, and helped students in registering at the polls.  
  • Washington Campus Compact developed and distributed posters with QR code links on voting requirements and Get Out the Vote information. 
  • University of Montana ran free shuttles for two weeks to transport students to the Missoula County Fairgrounds to vote.
  • Wilmington College (OH) had students hand in absentee ballots at a Halloween Themed “Trick or Vote” Party.  Learn more about Trick or Vote here:

Featured Initiative - Citizenship and Civility
Western Carolina University

Citizenship and Civility was the WCU 2012-13 interdisciplinary learning theme, and faculty and staff members were encouraged to weave the theme into curricular and co-curricular activities. The campus community embarked on a year-long interdisciplinary exploration of what it means to be a citizen and what it means to be civil which included significant election engagement. One result was that nearly 1,200 new voters were registered in Jackson County with the collaboration of the Honor’s College, Center for Service Learning, Public Policy Institute, other partisan campus groups, and NCPIRG.


 -WCU's  Center for Service Learning hosted four Debate Watch parties—starting each with a discussion about related issues, and following them with a mini-quiz with prizes from the campus bookstore.

- They launched the Cullowhee Voter Initiative in February 2012, a nonpartisan effort to improve voter education and participation in Jackson County. See several articles below.

Effort to Increase Voter Participation Gets Underway
WCU Students Launch Voter Initiative

Learn more about Citizenship and Civility here.

Other Ideas:

Cuyahoga Community College (OH) hosted a mock presidential debate and Miami-Dade College (FL) held a  "Making Democracy Count" Rally on Constitution Day. Constitution Day 2014 is Wednesday, September 17th. Learn more here.

Elon University (NC) hosted the  2012 Elections website that served as a hub of stories, resources, information and more for students, faculty and staff searching for ways to get involved in the political process, journalists seeking expert commentary, and citizens who want to learn more about the political forces shaping their lives.

Several Florida campus organizations host election trivia and “Jeopardy” contests that focused on election issues

Hobart and William Smith Colleges (NY) coordinates HWS Votes  a non-partisan group of student leaders devoted to voter registration and the continuous education of the Hobart and William Smith and Geneva communities. They also participate in TurboVote.  Check out their video below.

Kutztown University (PA) participated in the College Election Poll Worker Initiative, a collaboration between Kutztown and the Berks County Election Offices. They recruited and trained college students for appointment as election workers.

UNC Charlotte (NC) as part of the Campus Vote Project, created a comprehensive election-related website through their library.  They also launched the 49er Democracy Experience drawing on the energy and opportunities available as Charlotte hosted the national presidential nominating convention.  The Experience broouight together expert faculty, civic-minded students and community partners to develop educational programming to enhance the public understanding of and participation in our nation’s democratic process.

Western Kentucky University created the “What’s Your Tag” campaign inviting students and others to use @WhatsUrTag and #whatsurtag and to join the Twitter conversation as they follow activities related to the 2012 election.

Western Washington University's (WA) Facebook page -

Using Arts & Media:

• High Point University sent students to each of the conventions, then interviewed them and posted the videos to get other students engaged through their Democracy USA project.

• Florida Campus Compact and Ohio Campus Compact distributed resource packages that included copies of the discussion guides, a DVD of the women’s suffrage film Iron-Jawed Angels.

• In Michigan, two campuses screened the youth engagement documentary #ReGENERATION, then held non-partisan discussions on election-related issues. In both cases, schools had computers set up so participating students could also register.

• Drake University screened the documentary Patriocracy, about American political dysfunction accompanied by CEEP dialogue guides.

• Bunker Hill Community College history and performing arts students created a series of Constitution Day flash mobs to emphasize the importance of electoral participation.