Student-driven 'DU Votes' Registers More Than 100 Student Voters
A student-driven initiative to increase voter awareness led to more than 100 Dominican University students registering to vote for the first time this year.
Last spring, Chloe Young, a senior psychology major and Willenborg Civic Learning Student Fellow, organized DU Votes to help classmates register to vote for the November election and encourage them to participate in the democratic process.
With a $5,000 grant from Ask Every Student, an initiative that collaborates with college campus leaders to encourage voter registration, Young partnered with three paid student voting ambassadors to conduct educational campaigns around campus, social media outreach, and student activities — all with a focus on voter education and awareness ahead of the November midterms.
Topics included how, where, and when to vote; voting registration deadlines; and how to find candidates and issues appearing on a particular ballot.
A series of events, typically held in the Social Hall, assisted students in online voter registration. During these events, 101 students registered, said Paul Simpson, director for civic learning, who assisted Young on the DU Votes campaign.
“I think 101 students registering on a campus that doesn’t have a very large population is pretty impressive and impactful,” he said. “I feel students knew who they could reach out to the student voting ambassadors.”
For students who live on campus and used Dominican as their address for voter registration, shuttle busses were made available to take them to their polling place, Roosevelt Elementary School in River Forest, on Nov. 8.
“Overall, our mission was to change the campus climate so more students, staff and faculty would be as involved in the process as they could be,” Young said of the project. “We really want to see Dominican become a democratically-engaged campus.”
She noted that many college students, especially those who live in another state, are unsure of how to register to vote or if they can still take part in their home state elections while living elsewhere. DU Votes helped to answer their questions.
In addition to registering new voters, the project generated enthusiasm among many students, Young said.
“A lot of students were already registered, but still eager to be part of the process,” she said. “Students would stand by the table with us and shout out to people to see if they wanted to register. A lot of students also offered to volunteer and post on social media to get the word out.”
“I was really moved and impressed by how much Chloe poured into this,” Simpson added. “I felt like I was working with someone who has grasped beyond her years of what it means to draw people into the process.”
Both Simpson and Young say they are hopeful that voting awareness campaigns will continue on campus.
“In the future I’d like to make it bigger and do more, especially in terms of how many students register,” said Young, who will remain at Dominican as a graduate student next year. “I’m very proud of the work my team did and I feel good about the momentum we had behind it.”