Youth virtually engage their peers on National Voter Registration Day

College students reach out to hundreds of thousands of potential voters in massive registration push

Press Release

-For Immediate Release-

For More Information:
Manny Rin, Student PIRGs New Voters Project Director, 925-234-1457, [email protected]
Josh Chetwynd, Communications Manager, 303-573-5558, [email protected]

Nationwide COVID-19 has reshaped 2020’s election landscape, but that hasn’t stopped the Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project from extensive outreach for Tuesday’s National Voter Registration Day. The organization, which is one of the country’s oldest and largest youth-led voter mobilization efforts, is taking tried-and-tested campaign tactics and adapting them to reach students in an online world. 

Specifically, traditional actions such as phone banking and clipboarding have gone virtual to reach students on college campuses that are now online. Working on more than 100 campuses in 16 states, nearly 1,400 student volunteers and interns are activating their communities by holding Zoom campaign actions, fraternity/sorority chapter vote competitions, educational events and more. In total, the effort will reach tens of thousands of students across the country on this national day of action dedicated to voting.

“Young people make up the largest group of potential voters in the country and we are uniquely positioned to organize and communicate with each other online,” said Johanna Hussain, WISPIRG Student, University of Wisconsin – Madison, “Even with in person classes and other activities on campus cancelled this semester, it is more important this fall that we help our classmates cast their ballot.” 

Since 1983, the New Voters Project has helped register more than 2 million young voters and has made more than 2.5 million individualized contacts with voters to make sure they have plans to cast their ballots. This year’s National Voter Registration Day represents a big opportunity to increase participation in democracy by registering, educating and activating students in the campus community. 

For example, at the University of Central Florida, Florida PIRG Students organized a virtual vote competition between a diverse group of student organizations, including the Campus Democrats, Campus Republicans, Latin American Students Association, Pre-Med American Medical Student Association, and more to register as many of their friends as possible. The action aims to help register and educate more than 500 students at UCF. 

“Our coalition of student groups spent all day calling, texting and reaching out to our friends on social media,” Niamh Harrop, Florida PIRG Student, University of Central Florida, “It was amazing to see so many different groups of students come together to achieve the common goal of registering each other to vote.”

Throughout the country, Student PIRG campus chapters are partnering with campus administrators, faculty, student governments and election officials to celebrate National Voter Registration Day. 

“National Voter Registration Day reminds us of our duty to recognize and celebrate the significant role our younger citizens play in shaping the future of our state, and our nation,” said Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman. “I am grateful for the opportunity to partner with WashPIRG Students in its effort to encourage young people to vote and make their voices heard.”

While traditional on-campus outreach has halted across most of the country, students are still focused on using personalized tactics to mobilize young people — the largest potential voting bloc in the United States. 

In New Jersey, students are running Friends Help Friends Vote actions where students gathered on a Zoom video to call and text their friends to vote using StudentVote.org. This student-friendly voter registration tool makes it easy for first-time voters to register, a newly established ability in New Jersey. 

“Voting is the most powerful way we can make our voices heard,” said Oriana Holmes-Price, NJPIRG Students, Rutgers University. “We do most things online so being able to register to vote online is a gamechanger. National Voter Registration Day is just the first step in our effort to turn out students this November.”

Looking to build on these results, Student PIRG organizers will keep working to increase voter participation of students around the country before the voter registration deadline. Students are already making big plans to make sure classmates are registered and have everything they need to cast their vote.

“Right now, young people are fired up — going to protests and signing petitions,” said Manny Rin, director of Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project. “We need to make sure we make our voices heard on Election Day as well. s In an online world, young people are uniquely set up to organize others. It’s time we show the country that America’s largest generation votes!”

Follow National Voter Registration Day activities through social media on September 22 by searching #PIRG, #NVRD,  #NationalVoterRegistrationDay, #CampusTakeover and by following @StudentPIRGs 

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The Student PIRGs voter registration and turnout effort is part of its New Voters Project campaign, one of the largest nonpartisan youth voter mobilization efforts in the country. The Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project has run peer-to-peer student voter mobilization drives to turn out the youth vote on college campuses for more than 30 years. Its philosophy is that the full participation of young people in the political process is essential to a truly representative, vibrant democracy. The New Voters Project does not endorse, either explicitly or implicitly, a political candidate or political party for elected office.

 

Founded in 2012, National Voter Registration Day is designed to create an annual moment when the entire nation focuses on registering Americans to exercise their most basic right—the right to vote. Nearly 3 million Americans have registered to vote on the holiday since the inaugural National Voter Registration Day in 2012.