PIRGIM New Voters Project 2020 Update

New Voters Project Campaign Update

This fall, PIRGIM Students’ New Voters Project worked hard to help register and mobilize students to vote and participate in our democracy. Over the course of the past 8 months, our student leaders launched voter registration programs on 9 college campuses in Michigan. 

The student leaders we trained through our program not only organized their communities—they raised the voices of all young people across the state. These emerging leaders ran trainings for State Voices (pictured above), attended the Michigan Student Voting Summit, and co-hosted a conference with the Secretary of State’s Office to Get Out the Vote. PIRGIM students also ran a statewide Voter Registration training with partners at the University of Michigan.

Together, our team helped register hundreds of college students across the state and educated tens of thousands more about when, where, and how to vote! We —

  • Organized at some of the largest public universities in the state, including the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.
  • Presented in nearly 200 virtual classrooms about registering to vote or voting safely.
  • Called thousands of students to make sure they were registered to vote through hundreds of hours of phone-banking
  • Worked with university departments, vote coalitions, athletics, civic engagement offices to send out emails to the entire student body with a link to the Michigan Student Vote Project’s portal studentvote.org 
  • Launched voter registration competitions with Michigan State University’s National Pan-Hellenic Council and Get out the Vote competitions with Kalamazoo College’s Athletic Office. 
  • Partnered with the Michigan Secretary of State’s office, Michigan Voices, NAACP, ACLU, and others to turn out the youth vote on campuses and reach students from multiple backgrounds 
  • Contacted over 13,000 people through phone calls and text messages to make sure every student had a plan to vote
PIRGIM Intern and Club President, Molly Linhares, presented to the Eastern Michigan University Board of Trustees about all the work we were doing on campus and how they could support our efforts 

The week of the voter registration deadline, student leaders and our team presented in 84 virtual classes and spoke to almost 2,000 students over the phone about updating their voter registration. 

The work didn’t stop there. During the two weeks after the voter registration deadline we called for over 400 hours to make sure students had the resources they needed to get to the polls or cast their ballot early. We called and texted over 10,000 people leading up to Election Day and worked with the NAACP Youth and College Division to call people up until the polls closed.

Engaging and Training Student Leaders

“Working with PIRGIM this semester was really extraordinary and rewarding in the way that I was able to engage in campaigns that I was passionate about and see the work of the team translate into youth awareness and voter registration.” Sarah Okeke, Michigan State University Class of 2023



“In the final few days before the election, we all spent hours virtually phone banking, text banking, and reaching out over social media in order to help as many youth voters as possible create a plan to vote. It has been such a rewarding experience to see how many thousands of people we have reached out to, and how excited they all were to vote!” said Sophia Marsh, University of Michigan, Class of 2021


“As a political science major I’ve always been interested in getting hands on with elections; with PIRG, I was able to do just that. The mass calling and texting could be tiring but wow, it was well worth it. Seeing those tangible numbers of just how many people we had reached after the election was astounding. It feels good to know that we helped even one person get to the polls, let alone thousands!” said Derek Richardson, University of Michigan, Class of 2022


Caitlin Ukpong, a Michigander who attends Howard University, helped us relaunch our campus program in Michigan. She helped coordinate a pledge to vote safely campaign that collected over 400 pledges from students around the state and worked to help campuses across the state create virtual civic engagement plans. She also worked with our New Voters Project Director, Manny Rin, to run trainings for other PIRG interns across the country and coalition partners on virtual civic engagement campaigns. 

Looking Ahead

Even though the election has come and gone, our work in Michigan is far from over. Students are as excited as ever to get involved! We ran an incredibly robust volunteer and internship program and have worked with 100 volunteers and 80 interns since the start of our program.  We’ve started PIRGIM clubs on a number of campuses and are continuing many of our efforts into the Winter and Spring semesters.

Already, our interns and volunteers have organized events for Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week to bring visibility to food insecurity issues on their campuses. A number of our top students will be using this week to attend our Federal Lobby Day where they’ll advocate for emergency funding for students in light of COVID-19 impacts.

About Us

PIRGIM or the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan, is an advocacy group that works to protect consumers and strengthen our democracy. We were founded by students at University of Michigan in 1973 based on the idea that students can make a huge difference for society when we pool our resources together. 

Students have the right and the responsibility to shape the future we will inherit. The Student PIRGs’ 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. 

Please feel free to contact me, Sarah Eisenstark PIRGIM Lead Organizer, by phone at 917 696 7671 or email at [email protected] with any questions about our program.