WomenVotes 2016

Walk2Vote and Carpool2Vote Announce Nationwide Collaboration to Enhance Voter Turnout

Washington, DC/ Houston, TX, — Walk2Vote.com, a student led nationwide voting initiative created by the students at the University of Houston Downtown to connect and empower young voters announced today it is partnering with Carpool2Vote.com, the first-ever free ride share app to the polls with the goal of enhancing nationwide voter turnout through the use of technology and community support. Together, we will empower the community to unite our voices and get our citizens more involved in our democracy!

We can all agree, this presidential election is way too important for anyone to stay home because of lack of interest in the political process or because they couldn’t get to the polls. Now a model for schools nationwide, Walk2Vote.com seeks to not only encourage student and youth voting but to educate future generations of voters in the hopes of creating a sustainable interest in the political process on a local, state and national level. The 26th Amendment guarantees youth the right to vote. Walk2Vote.com helps them and their community to go out and do it!” said John Locke, Chair of the Houston Local Walk2Vote and founder of national Walk2Vote.com.

Carpool2Vote.com is a digital platform of The WomenVotes.org blog and social channels. Co-founders Nicole Wild Merl and Thomas Cook, shared “We are very proud of our collaboration with Walk2Vote.com. By joining forces with Walk2Vote.com we seek to build our community and network of high school and college age women and caring organizations who want and can make a difference. Our purpose is to empower women to vote and run for elected office and ensure every woman, mom, grandmother (everyone) gets their chance to vote in #Election2016 .”

Locke, further explains: “Our mission is to inspire people to vote and to go beyond just voting but volunteering and really engaging through the process. That is why I am really excited to partner with Carpool2Vote because it gives people away to engage, support their communities and #VoteTogether.”

A CALL TO ACTION is now in progress to increase voter turnout in the general election on November 8, 2016. Walk2Vote.com and Carpool2Vote.com need your help to outreach to college students, high school, and women and men across the country to join together; and,

Encourage students and youth to “Walk2Vote” in the general election en masse;
Ensure individuals needing a ride to the polls know they have free Carpool2Vote App; and
Recruit volunteers to drive as well as individuals to sign up now to carpool to vote.
“Voting is your duty and your vote does count. Do not think for one minute that your vote does not matter. Look what happened in the United Kingdom, e.g. BREXIT, a larger category of people did not vote largely millennials. They did not understand what was at stake and the implications to their daily lives. You can make a difference always in exercising your right to vote!” said Monique Morrow reminding us your freedom to vote is a responsibility.

How Can Universities Encourage Young People to Vote?

This past February, when many of their peers were still asleep, a group of Tufts University students got on a bus to New Hampshire to take advantage of a once-every-four-years opportunity: seeing presidential candidates making their final pitch to voters.

About the 26th Amendment
About the 26th Amendment:

• ‘Old Enough to Fight, Old Enough to Vote’: The 26th Amendment’s Mixed Legacy
• Will 18-to-21 Voters Take Over?
• From the Archives: End of the ‘Youth Revolt’?
• Across the World, Where Are the Voters?
• How Can Universities Encourage Young People to Vote?
• Photos: 26th Amendment Drops Voting Age

Research shows that campaigns that directly contact young people boost youth turnout. Knocking on young people’s doors to talk about an election increases their turnout by about 25 percent.

Tufts University’s Tisch College has been analyzing data on youth voting in every election cycle since 2002. Our research consistently shows that young people respond well when they are invited to participate.

While taking a bus to a primary state offers a great opportunity, it’s not an option at most campuses most of the time. As the dean of a leading institution on civic engagement and political participation, I see clearly that raising the national youth turnout – and increasing political learning, generally – requires a broad range of strategies.
The Conversation

Why Care About Young Voters?

Young people have the power to shape elections. They represent a major potential political force: 49 million young people, ages 18-29, are eligible to vote – more than the 45 million eligible seniors.

Their collective power is such that in 2012, if Republican nominee Mitt Romney had obtained just 50 percent of the youth vote in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida, he would be president of the United States.

Already this primary season, young voters have made a significant impact in states like Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

On the other hand, young people’s potential to shape elections goes largely unfulfilled. In 2014, only 19.9 percent of 18- to 29-year-old citizens said they voted – the lowest youth turnout rate ever recorded in a federal election.

While youth participation is always higher in presidential years, we are seeing a decline there, as well. In 2012, youth turnout was 45 percent, down from 51 percent in 2008, according to an analysis by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning (CIRCLE), which is part of Tisch College.

Ratified during Vietnam, the Constitution’s ‘forgotten amendment,’ changed American culture. Has its political impact faded?

Getting Youth to Participate

What then are the solutions to this declining participation?

First, there are many misconceptions about youth. Campaigns and candidates often treat the youth vote as a monolith.

Indeed, young people are a highly diverse group. For example, only about 29 percent of young people are college students, and nearly 20 percent of young people are parents.

Their experiences and life circumstances influence how these different groups are likely to engage politically. For example, issues like early childhood education may be just as important as the cost of higher education.

Youth turnout and choice of candidates also vary by race, gender and immigrant status. For instance, African-Americans under the age of 30 voted at a rate of 53.7 percent in 2012, whereas the turnout of young Latinos was 37 percent that year.

After dismal student voter turnout for midterms, higher ed advocates eye 2016.

The gap in turnout between college and noncollege youth is particularly large. In 2012, young people with some college experience were almost twice as likely to vote as those who had not attended college. Even among college students, there are disparities in political engagement.

The National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE), which was started at Tisch College in 2013, is collaborating with over 800 participating colleges and universities in 48 states to build a database to study voter registration, voting patterns and correlations with campus climate and practices. Data from the 2012 presidential election, for these enrolled colleges, show that education majors voted at a 55 percent rate; engineering and math majors at 35 percent.

Universities across the country have been trying to better understand these patterns and improve college student turnout.

What Is Important for Youth

So what do we know through this research about how to motivate young people to go to the polls?

First, registering can be a challenge for young people. In the 2008 election, 84 percent of youth (ages 18-29) who were registered to vote actually cast a ballot. In 2012, of the young people who weren’t registered, 17 percent said they had missed the deadline and another 7 percent said they did not know where or how to register.

Many college students, in particular, are first-time voters who move frequently and must decide whether to vote in their university communities or in their home states.

Second, discussions and debates are important for young people. Evidence from national surveys shows that young people are more likely to vote if they have discussed current events in school, at home or with peers. The role of faculty in connecting political issues and policy debates into curriculum and pedagogy can be critical.

Third, providing basic information about voting makes a difference. Having information about how, when and where to register and to vote can help young people feel prepared to cast a ballot. Technology and social media can be helpful in disseminating information and promoting political discussions.

How Can Universities Help?

Universities can create programs that encourage students to register and build excitement and interest in an election.

For example, at the historically black college in North Carolina, Livingstone, an event that created a fun atmosphere with music, prizes and free food, as well as candidate presentations, resulted in the registration of nearly 400 of the school’s roughly 1,000 students in the 2008 national election, according to a report by Democracy North Carolina.

Similarly, Tufts University has taken steps to encourage voter registration, partnering with TurboVote, a product of Democracy Works, a nonpartisan nonprofit, to encourage students to register online and sign up for text alerts with important voting reminders.

Tufts also is collaborating with a broad range of campus groups on voter registration drives, rides to the polls, issue forums organized by students and other outreach activities. Tufts President Anthony P. Monaco recently emailed the entire student body, staff and faculty with a reminder to register and vote.

On other campuses too, students have organized events to encourage students to vote.

Recent changes to voting rights impact elections.

At the University of Houston-Downtown, the student government organized a “Walk 2 Vote” initiative in 2012 and 2014. Creating the “buzz” attracted students and local youth. They are now trying to replicate this on other campuses.

Research shows same-day registration, automatic registration, preregistration for 16-year-olds, a lower voting age and stronger civic education in schools all could boost youth turnout.

The fact is that voting is habit-forming and is often a gateway to other forms of civic engagement. At a time when young people face enormous challenges – crushing student debt, unemployment and mass incarceration – supporting them to vote will help raise a new generation of citizens who actively engage in our democracy.

This article was written by Alan Solomont, dean of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, Tufts University, for The Conversation. It has been republished with permission.

Developing an Active Citizenry Through Student Political Engagement

Shortly before election day on the campus of the University of Houston-Downtown, hundreds of students gather for a rally to hear from inspirational speakers, interact with local artists and politicians, and applaud hip-hop groups and other musicians. Then, en masse, the group walks several blocks to a polling station nearby and everyone votes. Texas law allows early voters to cast their ballots at any polling place, so organizers of the “Walk 2 Vote” event capitalize on that, said senior John Locke, the president of the Student Government Association. While the Walk 2 Vote event is the centerpiece of the school’s nonpartisan efforts to increase political engagement and voting, those efforts in many forms are present on campus all year long, giving the University of Houston-Downtown a 50 percent student voter rate in 2012, a notable achievement, particularly with an overwhelmingly racially diverse and nontraditional student body; 71 percent of registered students voted in that election. AASCU institutions are struggling to find ways to boost student political engagement at a time when college youth voting rates hovered around 56 percent in the 2012 election. They face logistical hurdles—voting regulations that can make it more difficult to get students to the polls—as well as other pressures, including fears of being seen as partisan. But some institutions and organizations have found ways to create an atmosphere on campus that promotes political activity as well as political conversations that take place in a constructive way, which translates to increases in registration and voting. Establishing those habits and practices when students are on campus can have important consequences for communities and countries said Nancy Thomas, the director of the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education at Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life. “Because of the state of polarization in this nation … it’s very dangerous if we can’t learn to talk across differences,” Thomas said. “What’s good for students in terms of political engagement is also what’s good for democracy.” Campuses Can Get Their Voting Data So what is the state of youth voting? Only about 20 percent of 18- to 29-yearolds cast ballots in the 2014 election—the lowest youth turnout rate ever recorded in a federal election, according to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), also based at Tufts. Until recently, there was little information about what specifically was happening among voters on college campuses. However, the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) is examining newly available voter information taken from at least 825 campuses, including 150 AASCU campuses. To participate, institutions only need to opt-in to the study and in return will get a full report on the voting data for their own campus, and a guide for creating a campus-wide dialogue about those results, said Thomas, who is overseeing the effort. So far, the project has determined that about 46 percent of students at participating schools voted in the 2012 presidential election. About 48 percent Public Purpose of Public Higher Education Developing an Active Citizenry Through Student Political Engagement By Michelle R. Davis About 53 percent of college voters chose to cast their ballots in person, instead of using early voting or absentee voting. Spring 2016 n Public Purpose 7 of them were female, compared to 40 percent male. About 53 percent of college voters chose to cast their ballots in person, instead of using early voting or absentee voting. Only 19 percent of students on these campuses voted in the 2014 midterm elections. While the data about specific campuses is not made public, some schools have released their voting information and have been shown to do particularly well. “We want to encourage campuses to sign up for the (NSLVE) project,” said Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, the national manager for AASCU’s American Democracy Project, which works to promote intentional non-partisan political and civic engagement on AASCU campuses. “If campuses get their election data, they can use that as a starting point to improve their numbers.” Campuses can also learn from the high fliers, like the University of HoustonDowntown. The school’s efforts to create political engagement on campus go way beyond voter registration drives and are year round, said Windy Y. Lawrence, the founder and director of the school’s Center for Public Deliberation. Through the center, the campus hosts two or more forums per semester that often focus on controversial issues like immigration or guns on campus. But these forums are structured so that attendees break into small groups to trade views instead of listening to a few speakers, for example. Everyone gets to express their views. “We found that these forums absolutely change the way people think about politics and democratic activism,” Lawrence said. “Prior to participating, they think of debates as unproductive conversations between political candidates. Afterwards, they understand that politics can be productive and they are a critical part of that.” The SGA plays a powerful and pivotal role on campus, she said, with mentoring from faculty. And the administration also sets a tone of support, she said. Past school President (and current vice chancellor of Antioch University and president of the university’s Santa Barbara campus) William Flores and his wife Noël Bezette-Flores founded an umbrella organization, the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning, that helps the disparate community and political engagement efforts on campus work toward a unified vision, get funding and harness their power, without replicating each other’s efforts. Administration Encouragement Makes a Difference Flores also incorporated political engagement into his Quality Enhancement Plan for the University, which emphasizes the need for students to use critical thinking to understand community issues and engagement. That administration support is critical in showing both faculty and students that participating in democracy by voting is important. At Indiana State University, President Daniel J. Bradley has gone to bat, in a public way, for student voting. Bradley approached local county officials about placing a voting center on campus to encourage student voting. When those officials said it was too costly, Bradley said the university would pay for it. But when the county election board voted on the idea this year, the vote was split and, by regulation, it had to be unanimous. The university appealed, but was shot down. The back and forth prompted media coverage, both on campus and off, as well as a raft of political discussion. Even though the campus didn’t get the voting center, the process of appealing and his very public push for student voting opportunities was important, Bradley said. “If the campus is a place that can have debates without people getting angry and personalizing the issue, then it helps students understand what’s possible,” he said. That administrative support is coupled with a robust political engagement initiative on the Indiana State University Campus. Carly Schmitt, an assistant pro Only 19 percent of students on these campuses voted in the 2014 midterm elections. Only about 20percent of 18- to 29-year-olds cast ballots in the 2014 election—the lowest youth turnout rate ever recorded in a federal election. 8 Public Purpose n Spring 2016 fessor of political science who leads the American Democracy Project on campus, described a varied approach to getting students involved in the upcoming elections. First up is voter registration. In addition to consolidating efforts around traditional registration drives and tapping student expertise around social media for marketing, Indiana State uses TurboVote, a non-profit organization whose software can easily register students and provide text and email voting reminders to help boost participation. Bradley will call attention to it and students will receive an email providing a link to TurboVote online. “Once the administration gets behind an initiative like this and it emanates across the campus that this is a priority, then it gets buy-in,” said Schmitt, who is the campus coordinator for the American Democracy Project. The Indiana State University campus had a 71 percent student voter registration rate in 2012. More than 56 percent of registered students voted at the polls that year, she said. Schmitt, who has a paid graduate student to help with year-round efforts to promote political engagement along with about 30 student volunteers, has gotten creative. She organized a Tweet-up around the State of the Union and student tweets are displayed on screens in the library. About 80 students participated in an “Amazing Race” to the White House, modeled on the popular television show, that had students running to four different locations for clues and to answer political trivia. An “Iowa (M)aucus”—created to simulate that state’s political caucus, which is one of the first major electoral events in the presidential race and receives significant media attention— featured about 120 students playing the parts of the presidential candidates, as well as the caucusers, with similar success. “They really bought into the atmosphere,” even finding candidate memorabilia to wear and display, Schmitt said. “They were completely engaged. Our goal is to create events where students don’t check out.” That type of interaction translates into political engagement, which ultimately transforms into voting and lifelong habits of civic involvement, said Thomas. “There’s evidence that the old way of expecting young people to get involved— by candidates showing up and shaking “What’s grabbing students today is engaging in quality discussions around issues and being informed.” – Nancy Thomas About 46 percent of students at participating schools voted in the 2012 presidential election. About 48 percent of them were female, compared to 40 percent male. Spring 2016 n Public Purpose 9 hands and saying ‘Get out the vote’— doesn’t work,” she said. “What’s grabbing students today is engaging in quality discussions around issues and being informed.” In addition, Thomas said, the effort to promote student voting has to extend beyond election season. And political engagement has a lot to with campus climate. “When visiting a high-voting campus, I see a high-level of social cohesion,” Thomas said. “Students feel deeply connected with each other and their faculty.” Connections Translate to Political Action At the University of South CarolinaUpstate, based in Spartanburg, S.C., Abraham Goldberg, the director of Service-Learning and Community Engagement as well as an associate professor of political science, said his campus’ 77 percent voting rate for 2012 was no accident. Goldberg said years of work created a campus climate that embraces and celebrates the student body’s diversity of race, age and experiences. A school initiative called “Spartans Care” was launched to help address and combat student stress and depression. It is a constant reminder for faculty to ask how students are doing and to prompt students to take care of each other. The initiative’s “R U OK?” logo is plastered to nearly every campus door, with an email address to link struggling students to help. “There’s a deep, deep connection between faculty, the administration and students,” Goldberg said. “That connection creates an environment where students can walk in and explore challenging and controversial viewpoints in a safe space.” Goldberg said there are voter registration efforts on campus, but what he believes makes the difference is infusing the entire curriculum with political learning. For example, he advises English 101 and 102 students with their writing, which often reflect current events, political and social issues. History courses bring debates into class. Even biology class, for example, might tackle a local environmental issue and link it to political action and voting, Goldberg said. “Our curriculum inspires students to get civically involved and that leads to voting,” he said. “It’s great to have voter registration, but that’s not why our campus votes more.” Campuses are getting creative in their efforts to improve voter and voter registration rates. The NCAA’s Southern Conference has launched the first voter engagement competition in that Division 1 athletic conference, which includes several AASCU schools. “SoCon Votes” will feature each of the 10 conference schools battling in four rounds on getout-the-vote efforts. In the first round, schools will sign-up for the NSLVE study. Awards will ultimately be given for the teams with the highest undergraduate student voter turnout in 2016 and the most improved voter turnout. Some schools are also turning to behavioral science and work done by ideas42, a research organization, around techniques that can overcome student psychological barriers to voting. Their work has shown that making voting highly visible, providing clear steps to registration, appealing to students’ sense of pride, and normalizing voting can help boost participation. But it can be a delicate balance to invite political engagement and discussion onto campus, Thomas said. “Administrations need to talk to students and collaboratively come up with ground rules for civil discourse that has broad buy-in,” she said. “We can make mistakes or say stupid things, but we can’t make people uncomfortable. That’s a fine line.” Flores, the past president of the University of Houston-Downtown, said he understands the unease some college leaders might have around creating a campus where political discussions are welcomed. “There’s a lot of scrutiny that presidents come under because we are the public voice of the university,” he said. “It’s incumbent upon us to stay above the fray, but at the same time to create the conditions that encourage the opportunity for critical thinking.” The groundwork that Flores laid is continuing to expand in Houston. SGA president Locke said his organization is working to take the Walk 2 Vote effort national, providing a model to other campuses. Locally, the university SGA is widening its outreach—making the event about voting on campus as well as in the city of Houston. To get there, students are creating fliers and using social media to market the event, and connecting with local media to advertise. They’re also partnering with other local colleges for the rally and with community organizations to extend voter registration drives into the community. But all of these efforts center on the value of exchanging ideas in a constructive way, working on issues, and improving the community, Locke said. “It’s important to hear from people on different sides of the aisle and different perspectives to get the full view of an issue—to see the whole instead of just pieces,” Locke said. “The more people are informed about arguments on both sides, the better informed we are as voters.” P Michelle R. Davis is a freelance education writer in the Washington, D.C. area.

Fostering Campus Climates for Political Learning & Engagement

CLOSING PLENARY: Fostering Campus Climates for Political Learning & Engagement
Saturday, June 4, 2016 | 8:45 a.m. – 10 a.m.
Democratic learning is not just an issue for the 2016 U.S. presidential election cycle; campuses have a responsibility to support a robust campus climate for nonpartisan political learning and engagement in our democracy 365 days a year. The Institute for Democracy and Higher Education (IDHE) is a new research center at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University (Mass.). Its signature initiative, the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) provides colleges and universities with data on their students’ registration and voting rates. With over 800 colleges and universities nationally in the study – including 214 ADP/TDC/NASPA Lead campuses – and a database of 7.5 million students, NSLVE researchers have completed an analysis of voting based on a broad range of institutional and individual characteristics. This research has been augmented with qualitative studies at campuses to determine the unique norms, structures, and student experiences that create a strong climate for political learning. For this plenary session, the IDHE researchers will share NSLVE data on college and university student voting. They will also provide a brief overview of IDHE’s research focusing on campuses with robust campus climates for political learning and engagement in democracy. Faculty, staff and students from campuses representing ADP, the NASPA Lead Initiative, and TDC will share their experiences and promising practices for student political learning and engagement. While each campus is unique, all of the presenters will share programs and practices easily replicated on other campuses hoping to deepen their political climate.


Nancy ThomasNancy Thomas, directs the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University. The Institute is dedicated to shifting college and university priorities, practices, and culture to strengthen college student political learning and engagement in democracy and to advance social and political equity in public life. The National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement is the Institute’s signature initiative. Her work and scholarship center on higher education’s democratic mission, college student political engagement, free speech and academic freedom, and deliberative democracy on campuses and in communities. She is the author of multiple book chapters, articles, and the monograph, Educating for Deliberative Democracy, an issue of Jossey Bass’ New Directions for Higher Education series. She is an associate editor of the Journal of Public Deliberation and a senior associate with Everyday Democracy. She received her bachelor’s degree in government from St. Lawrence University, a law degree from Case Western Reserve University, and a doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. For more about Nancy.


GoldbergAbraham Goldberg, Director of the Office of Service-Learning and Community Engagement (OSLCE) and an Associate Professor of Political Science at theUniversity of South Carolina Upstate. The OSLCE strives to eliminate barriers between the campus and region by cultivating reciprocal and sustainable partnerships between USC Upstate students, faculty, and community organizations. He authored the South Carolina Civic Health Index and has published numerous academic articles about the relationship between the built environment of cities, social connectivity, and resident quality of life. Abe regularly supervises undergraduate research projects and teaches courses in urban planning and policy, public administration, civic engagement and American politics. He earned his doctorate from West Virginia University and resides in Greenville, South Carolina with his wife and two children.

BodaryDavid L Bodary, Professor of Communication at Sinclair Community College (Ohio). He holds degrees in Communication from Eastern Michigan University and Wayne State University. He has facilitated numerous National Issues Forum discussions in the Dayton region and coordinates the Service Learning program for Sinclair Community College.

Ishara Casellas Connors, Associate Director, Institute for Democracy and Higher Education. Ishara Casellas Connors manages the IsharaInstitutes signature initiative, The National Study for Learning Voting and Engagement (NSLVE). NSLVE provides participating campuses with data on their students’ registration and voting rates. In addition, NSLVE works to create resources for campuses interested in advancing political learning and engagement in democracy, with a focus on advancing social and political equity. Ishara has worked across all types of higher education institutions, in both policy, program, and development roles. Throughout this work and scholarship Ishara has focused on issues of access and diversity within higher education. Ishara holds a MA in Higher & Postsecondary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

John LockeJohn Locke was a two term student body president of the University of Houston-Downtown (Texas). He has received certificates of recognition from Houston’s City Council members, Mayor of Houston and Congress. He also has been recognized as Student of the Year Award, at the Circle of Change Leadership Conference in Los Angeles, CA. John also received an honorary degree from the International Education Parliament in 2016 for his commitment to improving higher education and his presentation on best practices.

MeyerMichele “Micki” Meyer serves as the Lord Family Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs at Rollins College (Fla.). She holds an Endowed Chair position funded by the DHL and RNR Foundations to build capacity around engaged scholarship, high impact learning, and student engagement. She oversees areas of campus that work directly with leadership education, civic engagement, service-learning, diversity and inclusion, student involvement, and college access. For more about Micki.

#CLDE16 | CLOSING PLENARY: Fostering Campus Climates for Political Learning & Engagement