83% of young people agree

Young people are fired up. They’re going to protests and signing petitions. 83 percent believe they have the power to change the country. The next step is to make sure they take that energy and enthusiasm to the polls on Election Day. In an online world, young people are uniquely positioned to be able to organize their peers.

That’s why the Student PIRGs are proud to officially launch our 2020 New Voters Project. Here are some numbers we’re really excited about:

  • 65 professional organizers on our team
  • We’ll train 3,000 student leaders
  • We’ll mobilize 250,000 young voters
  • We’re working on 200 college campuses in more than 12 states

It’s time we show the country that young people are America’s largest generation, and they vote! Read on for more highlights from our launch.


Launching the New Voters Project

Last week, 350 students from across the country kicked off the campaign with a livestreamed panel of student leaders and elected officials, including Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and Michigan Assistant Secretary of State Heaster Wheeler.


A movement built and led by students

We believe in amplifying the voice of young people, giving them the tools and skills to take their energy and passion and turn it into concrete change. Already, the New Voters Project has hired almost 700 interns to work with us over the summer to turn out the youth vote and make sure students are voting safely. Our team of interns and professional organizers are doing this by building diverse coalitions of student groups, faculty, and administrators to reach as many underrepresented young people as possible, while using digital tools, relational organizing apps, and our online voting center StudentVote.org to reach more students and help them register to vote by mail and make a plan to vote safely.

Caitlin Ukpong, PIRGIM Students, Howard University

This summer, Caitlin, along with 40 PIRGIM interns, has been working to make sure students can safely cast a ballot this election by working with the Secretary of State’s office to educate thousands of students how to vote by mail. This past month, she helped coordinate a “Pledge to Vote Safely” campaign action that collected over 400 pledges from students around the state. This July, the team is working with local NAACP youth and college chapters to run a series of educational events leading up to the online voter registration deadline on July 21st.

Hannah Varnell, NCPIRG Students, University of North Carolina – Charlotte

With NCPIRG, Hannah has helped register hundreds of students in North Carolina by promoting NCStudentVote.org, a one stop resource for students to register and turn out to vote. With newly established online voter registration in North Carolina, online registration will be a key part of the strategy to help register young voters safely this election. This July, Hannah is organizing a radio and podcast outreach event to amplify NCStudentVote.org and other resources to help educate students.

Nic Riani, CALPIRG Students, UCLA

Nic is the Statewide Board Chair for CALPIRG Students and a student at UCLA. With the UCLA CALPIRG chapter, Nic helped make the school a statewide leader in voter registration and voter turn out. By building a large and diverse coalition of student groups, college athletes, faculty, and administrators at UCLA, the student voter turnout rate from the last midterm election more than tripled from 14% in 2014 to 45% in 2018. This summer, Nic and his peers are working closely with the California Secretary of State Office to promote the Ballot Bowl, a friendly competition designed to encourage universities and colleges to engage their students in the democratic process and register them to vote.

Alex Gordon, Florida PIRG Students, Eckerd College

Alex Gordon is the Statewide Board Chair for Florida PIRG Students and a student at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. In 2019, Florida PIRG Students helped register over 80% of Eckerd’s incoming freshman class by registering students during move-in day. With the likelihood of online classes throughout Florida this fall, Alex is leading efforts to make it easier for students to vote at a dozen colleges across the state, building diverse coalitions and getting each campus to commit to a civic engagement action plan. For example, at the University of Florida, we are teaming up with the Bob Graham Center, Greek Council, Multicultural Council and orientation leaders so we can reach 7,000 new Gators at orientation alone.


Democracy Summer

The Student PIRGs New Voters Project is partnering with Democracy Summer, led by Rock the Vote, on an effort to register 200,000 voters and engage youth online. Democracy Summer partners also include Voto Latino, When We All Vote, March for our Lives, Generation Citizen, and CIRCLE. The coalition is also partnering with Influential, a tech platform that connects brands to audiences using data and a network of more than one million celebrities and influencers to promote Democracy Summer.

On June 18th, Democracy Summer kicked off with a star-studded line up of performances and guest speakers, headlined by Katy Perry and the Black-Eyed Peas. More than 1.5 million people watched the kickoff, and major news outlets such as CNNVarietyBillboardEssence, and Rolling Stone featured the event. Future events will be organized around the anniversaries key civic dates such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, Voting Rights Act, and 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote.


Partnerships

To help make our work more successful and amplify the voice of students, we work closely with State Youth Tables and State 501(c)(3) Tables. We also work with a diverse coalition of campus groups to turn out the vote — from the Michigan NAACP Youth and College Division and University of Massachusetts Republicans to the University of North Carolina College Democrats; and from the University of Florida Panhellenic Sorority Conference to the UC Davis A Capella Club.

Finally, we’re excited to be partnering with other leading civic engagement organizations and projects, including Democracy Summer, Rock the Vote, Election Protection Coalition, When We All Vote, National Voter Registration Day, Vote Early Day, Ask Every Student, and the California University and College Ballot Bowl.

“While young people have varying interests, concerns and passions, making our voices heard this November is something we all can agree on. We are excited to work with a variety of student groups that represent our campus.”—Elisa Chang, CALPIRG Students intern at UCLA

About The Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project
PIRG New Voters Project, Inc. is a non-partisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization with 4945(f) status. We work on 60 campuses across the country to activate the largest voting bloc in the country. Young people continue to be underrepresented in our democracy, so we work to make sure every student has the opportunity to have their voice heard in our elections by building a culture of civic engagement on college campuses. We engage students, faculty, and administrators to build lasting systems of voter engagement for the long term.
Since 1984, our field based, non-partisan effort helped to register over 2 million young people and make over 3 million Get out the Vote contacts reminding young people where, when, and how to vote. We have tested new field models to ensure we are running the most effective civic engagement program possible. One study of our program showed that 76.3 percent of the voters we helped to register turned out to the polls, among the highest rates of all non-partisan voter registration efforts. 68.8 percent of voters we helped to register were brand-new registrants, making the project one of the most effective ways to bring new voters into the electoral process.
About The Student PIRGs
Students have the right and the responsibility to shape the future we will inherit. Our program spans over 100 campuses in 11 states, of which 35 campuses have self-funding programs, that provide the training, professional support and resources students need to tackle climate change, protect public health, revitalize our democracy, feed the hungry and more. Students have been at the forefront of social change throughout history, from civil rights, to voting rights to protecting the environment. For over 40 years we’ve helped our campus communities get organized, mobilized and energized so they can continue to be on the cutting edge of positive change. Every year, over 4,000 students gain hands-on experience in organizing and activism by volunteering with us to generate 150,000 grassroots actions.