Election Day stories from the ground

Blog Post

I spent Election Day with students in Florida, helping to make sure as many young people as possible get out to the polls. 
I wanted to send some quick highlights from the ground, showcasing just a small portion of the work student leaders with the nonpartisan Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project are doing to ensure that student voices are heard in this midterm election. 
This fall, more than 860 student volunteers, interns, and fellows working on more than 150 campuses across the country (including public and private four-year schools and 43 community colleges) have:

  • Made 202,813 GOTV contacts to help students make a plan to vote before polls close today (129,170 at community colleges)
  • Organized hundreds of campaign actions to engage their peers, whether through in-person events, class announcements, phone calls, text messages, or on social media.
  • Helped register 8,592 of their peers to vote leading up to Election Day

Across the country, PIRG students and organizers kicked off their outreach with a virtual huddle. Clarissa Unger, representing the Students Learn, Students Vote coalition, inspired our team and spoke about why we need to make sure young people participate in our democracy.

PIRG student leaders at Florida State University show off “Bobby B”, the inflatable vote goat who has traveled to campuses around the country to generate a buzz on campus around voting.

“I vote because I am passionate about ensuring higher education is accessible for everybody and want to ensure that Generation Z has a voice in our democracy.”

—Alexis Dorman, Florida State University sophomore and first-time voter

PIRG student leaders at Eckerd College in Florida organized a vote party complete with inflatable Vote Goat, bubbles, and swag!

At Michigan State University, PIRG students got up bright and early to hand out donuts and tote bags as they reminded students to vote.

“I vote because it’s important to make sure that you exercise your civic duty by engaging with the political system and our government. If you want to see change, you have to vote.”

—University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill student

Florida Agricultural & Machine University (FAMU) PIRG student leader Asia and Campus Organizer Alexis help get pledges to vote. Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey also stopped by to encourage the team!

University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth mascot Arnie the Pirate stopped by to remind students to vote, while PIRG students made more than 100 contacts with voters.

PIRG student leaders at UCLA held a “Donut Forget to Vote” event on campus.

“Voting is not only your constitutional right but it’s your way of letting your voice be heard. It’s your way of impacting people around you and the decisions that are being made, federally and locally.”

—Trinity St. Preux, Tallahassee Community College student and Student Government Senator

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill PIRG student leaders McKenzie Roller and Martha Plaehnn get ready to talk to students about voting (featuring Bobby B, the Vote Goat).

PIRG students also took to social media to remind their peers to vote: University of South Florida student leader Quanzelle Austrie and students in New Jersey were featured in Instagram’s “Vote” Story Highlights.

I’m beyond proud of the work our team has accomplished this fall. Stay tuned for more updates as we get preliminary results this week on youth turnout. If you have any thoughts on our program or want to learn more, please reach out!

For the latest updates (and lots more pictures of our team in action around the country) be sure to check out our live Election Highlight Reel.

Manny Rin
Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project

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 100 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 82% of the young people we helped to register leading up to the 2020 election turned out to vote, while 75% of the young people contacted through our peer-to-peer GOTV program turned out to vote. This compares to 68.5% of a representative sample of college students overall who were registered and voted in 2016.
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 22 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 almost 50 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.