Register People to Vote
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.
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
Voter Registration Requirements
To register to vote, a person must be:
1) A citizen of the United States by birth
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
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
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
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
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
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 (http://rockthevote.com) or League of Women
Voters (http://lwv.org) 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
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
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
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
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