Student Voter Registration
According to a study conducted by Tufts University's Institute for Democracy and Higher Education, voter turnout among college students more than doubled between the 2014 and 2018 midterm elections, increasing from 19% to 40%. Continued growth in turnout among this demographic has the potential to drastically alter the country's political landscape. In addition to playing a larger role in choosing their representatives at the local, state, and federal levels, college students could quickly become the deciding factor in policy debates related to issues such as college affordability, racial discrimination, and climate change.
Our student voting guide provides the information and resources you need to make your voice heard, including an explanation of how to register to vote and find your correct polling station. The guide also includes links to organizations that can help if you are being denied your right to vote on the basis of race, religion, or political beliefs. And it offers guidance on starting an effort on your campus to increase civic engagement among your classmates.
Resources for Voting in College
The resources below can help you understand how to cast a ballot in an upcoming election, including how to determine whether you are eligible to vote at a polling station near your campus or if you will need an absentee ballot to vote in another precinct. You can also contact your college's student affairs office for more information on voting and voter registration.
How to Get Involved on Campus
There are many ways you can help students on your campus register to vote. You can join, or even start, a group with the purpose of promoting college student voting. With this group, you can canvas or table at campus events to help other students register to vote or learn about absentee voting. You can also volunteer with local advocacy groups or conduct informational sessions to educate your peers about voting issues and candidates.
Campus Activism Organizations
Chances are your campus already has some politically engaged organizations. These groups are a great starting point for getting involved in local politics. You can usually find out about these organizations from the student life department at your school. Look for government and politics associations, political unions, or public policy clubs. There may also be organizations dedicated to specific political issues, such as LGBTQ+ rights, reproductive rights, or racial equality.
How to Start Your Own Campus Organization
Student-run organizations play a critical role in increasing voter turnout on college campuses. For example, these groups may conduct voter registration drives, organize transportation to and from nearby polling stations, or lead get-out-the-vote activities on election day. Many of these groups also conduct research and publish nonpartisan voting guides, helping students understand where the candidates stand on issues like student loan forgiveness, LGBTQ+ rights, and gun control.
If your school does not already have a student organization focused on voting, you can start your own by following the five steps detailed below.
- Meet With Student Affairs: As a first step, speak to an administrator in your student affairs department to learn about the process of starting a student organization -- including potential difficulties you might encounter. For example, it may be easier to start a nonpartisan group than one affiliated with a particular political party.
- Find a Faculty Sponsor: Many colleges require student groups to have a faculty sponsor. Consider asking a professor who teaches in your school's political science or government department to either serve as your sponsor or recommend another member of the faculty.
- Identify Sources of Funding: Your college may offer funding to student groups. However, this usually requires you to complete a separate application process. Alternatively, you can organize a fundraiser, collect dues from members, or solicit sponsorships from outside groups.
- Publicize Your Organization: You can recruit new members and spread word of your group's planned activities by posting flyers around campus, writing blurbs for student newsletters, and speaking at other student group meetings. Make sure to contact your school's student affairs office to learn more about the rules for marketing your organization.
- Create Governance Structures: If you want your group to exist after you graduate, you need to put governance systems into place. For example, write a mission statement that will guide the work of your organization and draft bylaws that explain how to elect officers and allot funds.
Below you will find three rankings of colleges based on the political involvement of their students. These rankings are based on data about political leanings and on-campus activism.
Top Colleges for Politically Active Students
America's Most Liberal Colleges
America's Most Conservative Colleges
Best Colleges for Future Politicians
Voter Registration Resources
You can't vote if you aren't registered. These websites will tell you how to register to vote for any location in the United States.
This website allows you to register to vote online, check your voter registration status, and request an absentee ballot if you're voting while in college or living abroad.
The federal government's online portal for voters, this website allows you to register to vote or change your voter registration to a new location.
The EAC is a bipartisan commission that maintains the National Mail Voter Registration form, which can be used to register to vote. Available in 15 languages, the form can also be used to update any information that has changed since you registered (e.g., your name or address).
This website allows you to search for specific registration regulations by state and learn critical information about registration deadlines.
Voting Rights Resources
Want to learn more about specific voting rights in every state and how they apply to individual voters? These websites have everything you need to know.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) publishes online articles and other resources that pertain to voting rights issues and relevant court cases.
This website breaks down the history of voting rights, voting rights policies, and pertinent court cases.
With practically everything you need to know about individual state voting rights policies, historical court cases, and laws related to voting, this comprehensive resource is a great starting place for voting research.
For those interested in the specifics of voting rights laws and rulings, this web portal provides all the in-depth legal information you need. You can search for laws and policies and read corresponding critical analyses.
This website offers educational resources for students and teachers. Topics include voting rights and present-day issues affecting them.
Political Party Websites
You don't have to register with a specific political party in order to vote in the general election, but if you do want to learn more about the four biggest political parties in the United States, their official websites are a good place to start.
Disclaimer: BestColleges.com is not affiliated with any political parties, and none of the information on this page is intended as or should be construed as legal advice. The information contained on this page is for general informational purposes only.