An Eta Sigma Gamma 2004 Advocacy Project


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Register People to Vote

Lets Keep Voting Healthy: Conduct a Campus Voter Registration Drive!

Conducting a voter registration drive on your campus enables students to vote on election day, which contributes to a healthy democracy. Tuesday, November 2, 2004 is General Election Day in the United States of America. On that day, American voters will elect a President, a Vice President, members of the U.S. Congress, and some members of the U.S. Senate. Voters in some states will also vote on state and local races and issues. Most states require a voter to be registered before election day.  A few states (Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Wyoming) allow voters to register at the polls on election day. North Dakota does not allow voter registration before election day.  

Action Steps
To start, you need to learn the voter registration requirements and deadline date for your school's state. You will want to see if your state requires you to be "deputized" to register voters, although most states do not require deputization. Then you will obtain voter registration forms along with the instructions for completing them.  After reviewing these materials, you will do a little homework to learn the likely questions (and answers) that students might ask while registering.  Finally, you can plan, prepare and publicize your voter registration drive.

Voter Registration Requirements

To register to vote, a person must be:
1)    A citizen of the United States by birth or naturalization
2)    Age 18 on or before election day  (Massachusetts requires a person to be 18 by the voter registration deadline date. )
3)    To find out if your school's state has additional requirements for voter registration, go to the Election Assistance Commission. This brings up a document titled Register to Vote In Your State By Using This Postcard Form and Guide For U.S. Citizens. Find your state; then look for the voter registration requirements listed in the section headed  9. Signature.

Voter Registration Deadline Dates

Most states have a deadline date for voter registration that is before the general election day.  Voter registration forms must be received by the designated state office on or before that deadline date. To find out the deadline date for your school’s state, go to the League of Women Voters for a listing of deadline dates for this year’s general election.

Voter Registration Deputization

Some states require persons who register voters to be “deputized.”  Deputization  means that a person is certified by the state to register voters. To be deputized, persons attend a brief (15 minutes to an hour) instruction session on holding a voter registration drive.  Contact your Secretary of State (SOS) to see if your state requires you to be deputized. To do so, go to Rock The Vote and find the website address and phone number for your school’s SOS.  Click on your SOS website to learn of any additional requirements for voter registration or telephone your SOS.

Voter Registration Forms and Instructions

Most states accept the National Mail Voter Registration Form except for New Hampshire and Wyoming. To be sure your state accepts this form, contact your SOS by going to Rock The Vote for the web and phone info for your state. If your state does accept the National form, check to see if photocopies of it are accepted. Some states may only accept computer printouts of the National forms. If your state does not accept the National form, then ask your SOS for the state forms and instructions.

To obtain the National Mail Voter Registration Form and instructions for completing it, go to the website of the Election Assistance Commission. This brings up a document titled Register to Vote In Your State By Using This Postcard Form and Guide For U.S. Citizens.  This document has four parts: 1) The Application itself; 2) General Instructions; 3) Application Instructions; and, 4) State Instructions.  Print out the first three parts and then find your state and print out those instructions.  

Computer printouts of the National Mail Voter Registration Form must be printed with black ink on 8-1/2” x 11” white paper of regular weight (20 lb.). Be sure the ink is not smeared because legibility is critical to states acceptance of the form. If your state accepts photocopies of the form, use black ink on 8-1/2” x 11” white paper of regular weight (20 lb.)  Again, legibility is critical. You can make computer printouts or photocopies of the applications by themselves and post the general and state instructions at your voter registration site. Make plenty of copies of instructions to have available for you and your volunteers. 

Each time you conduct a voter registration on campus, be sure to immediately turn the completed Voter Registration forms into the designated faculty sponsor for your chapter.  Some states require that forms be received within a certain time period from when they were signed. Your designated faculty sponsor should be responsible for mailing the completed forms to the appropriate state office and meeting any time deadlines. To find the address and time deadlines for mailing completed forms, contact your SOS by going to Rock The Vote

Absentee Voting

For general information on absentee voting, go to Declare Yourself and download the 16 page book titled Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Registering to Vote and Voting In the United States. Pages 12 and 13 provide absentee voting information.  Print these pages to have on hand during your drive. 

For state specific information on absentee voting, go to Harvard University’s Institute of Politics. Download and print 2004 State-By-State Guide to Absentee Voting  to have on hand during your drive.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) By Persons Registering To Vote

You will want to familiarize yourself with questions that are likely to be asked during your voter registration drive. And, you will want to know the answers.   The following website resources address a variety of questions and answers. You may want to have several printed copies of these FAQs sheets available during your voter registration drive. The sites listed below address questions specific to college students as well as general questions.

  • Rock The Vote  Rock the Vote's web page Voting FAQ addresses a variety of questions that you and other college students may have about voter registration. You can use this site to research general voter registration questions. 
  • League of Women Voters Scroll to the Frequently Asked Questions on Voting and Registration document.

Planning and Publicizing Your Voter Registration Drive

There are a variety of ways for you to conduct a voter registration drive.  For some basic information about doing a voter registration drive, go to the following resources:.

Planning and Preparing for Your Voter Registration Drive
Early on you need to arrange a date(s), time(s) and place(s) to have your voter registration drive. Setting up a voter registration table in your student union, residence halls, and/or school library can provide a high traffic place for your drive. 

  • To do a voter registration table, you must obtain permission from the appropriate person for the location.  The director of student organizations at your campus may be able to provide you with the contact information.  Otherwise, contact the heads of the student union, residence halls or library and they will assist you or direct you to the right person. Be sure to find out any rules and regulations that you need to follow. Also, determine your setup and take down times. Plan the materials to decorate the table and surrounding area. Consider using color themes of red, white and blue. Make signs or banners to hang from the front of the table as well as the surrounding area. Using a paper table cloth can help to dress up a plain table. 

Wherever you have your drive, be sure to have plenty of voter registration materials – forms, instructions (general and state), pens, printouts of FAQs, a log* of registered voters, and a box or large envelope for completed forms. At the end of the drive(s), the completed forms and log should be given to the designated faculty sponsor of your chapter.  That sponsor will be responsible for mailing the forms to the correct office.

*You should keep a log of everyone you register just in case there is a problem.  For a ready made log form, go to the Community Tool Box and scroll to Tool #2: Form for names and addresses.  You can print out this form or use it as a model to create your own.

Schedule plenty of volunteers from your chapter to assist students with the registration process.  They will need to be familiar with the forms and instructions, and act professional, respectful, courteous and nonpartisan. If your chapter has its own t-shirt, consider having your members wear them during the drive.

If students ask you questions and you don’t know the answer, refer them to nonpartisan websites such as Rock the Vote ( or League of Women Voters ( for answers. They can e-mail questions at those sites. Don’t guess at answers or say you will find out and get back to them. 

Most states will mail newly registered voters information about the place and times for voting on election day.  But if you want to give these newly registered voters a jumpstart, create a handout to give them that contains the general election date – 11/2/04, the SOS website and phone number for your state, and voter identification requirements.

You will not be sending photocopies of required identification with the completed voter registration forms. Tell anyone you register that she/he will probably need to take identification to her/his polling place in order to vote on election day.  To find out what identification your state requires, go to the Election Assistance Commission web site.  This brings up a document titled Register to Vote In Your State By Using This Postcard Form and Guide For U.S. Citizens.  Find your state then look for the section headed Attention: Proof of Voter Identification.

Publicize Your Voter Registration Drive
Publicize your voter registration events in advance.  A few ways to do that are listed below.

Create fliers with the date, time and location of the drive for distribution throughout campus. Go to the Community Tool Box web site and read the document titled Creating Posters and Fliers.

  • For faculty members, send a flier with a cover letter requesting they announce the drive to their students or circulate the flier in their classes. Take them to the department and ask the secretary if you can put them in faculty mailboxes or use the campus mail. Or, contact faculty members by phone or e-mail to see if you can come to their classes (beginning or end) to announce the drive.
  • For residence halls, identify the manager for each hall. Send 20-30 fliers with a cover letter to that person requesting he/she give these to their residence advisors for posting on their floors. 
  • For student organizations, send a flier with a cover letter requesting the organization president to announce the drive at their next meeting.  Usually you can put these in the mailboxes for student organizations located in your student union.  Some organizations meet once a week while others meet once a month, so don’t wait too long to do this.
  • Post fliers in authorized sites inside and outside of campus buildings.  To do this you may have to get approval from the Director of Student Organizations and have the fliers stamped before posting.    

Arrange for your campus newspaper to cover the drive BEFORE, DURING and AFTER it.  For info on arranging news and feature stories go to the Community Tool Box web site and read the document titled Arranging News and Feature Stories. Make arrangements for coverage with the paper’s editor or assistant editor in advance and provide them with details in writing to avoid mistakes.   If you can afford it, run a large ad in the paper for the drive but be sure it is a nonpartisan one.  Some campus papers have an event column which lists upcoming campus activities.  This resource is usually FREE. 

Many campuses have online listings of events being held on campus.  Contact the communications office at your campus to find out how to get your voter registration drive on this list in advance.

Many colleges and universities have their own radio stations.  If yours does, see if they will announce your upcoming voter registration drive for free. If they will do this, put together a written announcement for them to use to ensure the info is correct and nonpartisan. For info on preparing public service announcements go to the Community Tool Box web site and read the document titled Preparing Public Service Announcements.
If you have access to a campus bulletin board or display case in the student union, classroom building, or library, arrange to reserve it to publicize your voter registration drive. Plan and prepare materials for decorating it.  You may create your own or find some ready made items at a teacher’s supply store. Recruit volunteers to put the display up and take it down. Just remember to keep it nonpartisan. 

Sidewalk chalk announcements, table tents in cafeterias, eateries and dining halls, and door hanger reminders for residence hall rooms may also be useful in publicizing your drive.

Please remember that Eta Sigma Gamma is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization. Eta Sigma Gamma does not support a particular political party or any specific candidates for office. The Eta Sigma Gamma "Voting is Healthy" project is intended to assist U.S. citizens, especially college students, exercise their right to vote in a fair election process. While participating in the Eta Sigma Gamma Voting is Healthy project you are representing Eta Sigma Gamma, and you should refrain from advocating for political parties, positions, or candidates during these specific activities.

Page created August 11, 2004; Last Updated September 12, 2004.