Showing Up



The weeks leading up to election can be leveraged to get out the vote.  Registration and Education should lead to students showing up at the polls and voting, which is the ultimate goal of electoral engagement efforts.  Investing in ways to get students to fully participate in our democracy is essential.


  • Support and leverage student activism and leadership on campus
  • Empower students to create a buzz around the election
  • Investigate the possibility of early voting and voting together

“You have to reach out to them- this has to be part of the curriculum and co-curriculum.  It must be in the very heart of student life on campus, to be civically engaged.  Making voting a party worked well.  We have created a template and now it is time to institutionalize it.”

-David McMahnon, Kirkwood Community College, IA

From Election Imperatives:

Support student activism and leadership.

Be encouraging, nimble, and responsive to student activism. Use activism as an opportunity to involve more students and to rethink the purpose of student learning as they develop into leaders and active members of communities and a diverse democracy.


From Election Imperatives:

Empower students to create a buzz around the election.

Election season offers innumerable opportunities through voter mobilization and co-curricular activities for student leadership, fostering peer-to-peer interactions, and “creating a buzz” around the election. Use these opportunities to teach students important leadership skills such as how to develop an action plan, how to reach diverse groups on campus, and how to manage conflict.


Four Ways to to Make it Fun and Engaging

  1. Make it big – Student-driven, multi-campus events such as conferences or forums that teach students about community organizing and mobilizing voters are powerful tools to get out the vote. Some campuses invite local artists, performers, or musicians; others invite guest speakers. At one, students held a flash mob in the quad.
  2. Help them learn – in addition to being encouraged to vote, students need to be educated about how to register, as well as what is on the ballot.
  3. Make it competitive and offer prizes – ask student groups or teams to compete to register the most voters. Solicit prizes from local businesses to give to the groups registering the most voters.
  4. Make it catchy – ask students to create catch phrases for their events to garner attention. Successful names have included:  “We ALL Vote,” “Get Your Vote On,” “Show Up, Make it Count”

Many community college students have very challenging time schedules and are not always able to make it to the polls on election day.   These barriers can be turned into opportunities for early voting initiatives so that students do not have to wait to vote and can do it as part of an initiative or campus effort.  Investigate rules and ways for early voting in your area as a possibility.

Also, consider absentee ballots.  Voting absentee is an easy way for students to be able to vote without going through the struggle of getting to the polls on election day.  After the student has registered to vote, they are eligible to register for an absentee ballot. The absentee ballot application process varies from state to state, an easy and accessible way to access all of the absentee ballot registration information is on

Virtual Dialogue: The Power of Community Colleges in Voter Turnout

The Engage the Election project presented a series of virtual dialogues on the electoral power of community colleges. This three-part series featured community college practitioners sharing best practices from their institutions, followed by an open dialogue concerning the unique challenges and opportunities in voter registration, education, and turnout specific to community colleges.  In this dialogue, we discussed The Power of Community Colleges in Voter Turnout. Date: October 18, 2018


Dr. David Bodary, Professor of Communication, Sinclair Community College, OH
Helen-Margaret Nasser, Director, Student Union and Intercultural Center, CUNY Kingsborough Community College, NY