The Campus Vote Project (CVP) understands that today’s average college student maintains a lengthy list of to-dos—and the nonprofit is working hard to ensure that voting makes that list. On a national level, the nonpartisan organization, which is a project of the Fair Elections Center, seeks to institutionalize student voting at universities and colleges by sharing important voting information with students and encouraging them to vote.
Thanks to a partnership with the Center for Civic Engagement and Learning (CCEL) and other campus voter engagement efforts, CVP is making headway with students at Case Western Reserve. Not only is the university among CVP’s Voter Friendly Campuses (there are 15 in Ohio and 235 across the country), Case Western Reserve also receives support from CVP for its two student Democracy Fellows.
Working alongside members of CWRUVotes—a non-partisan volunteer group that works with CCEL to actively promote voter registration, voter education, and political engagement within the CWRU community—the Democracy Fellows register students to vote, co-facilitate brief Voting 101 workshops, volunteer at National Voter Registration Day and Election Day outreach events, and collaborate with other student organizations and groups to plan and facilitate on-campus political engagement efforts.
“These students are really passionate about being engaged in our democracy and making sure that students have access to the tools and information they need to vote,” says Alexis Crosby (CAS ‘13), CVP’s Ohio State Coordinator.
In fact, in the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education’s 2022 report, 70-percent of Case Western Reserve students voted in the 2020 election (the national average among college students was 66-percent). That figure was up from 42-percent in 2018 and 16-percent in 2014.
Crosby adds that Case Western Reserve has been among CVPs more successful partnerships because the institution as a whole supports democracy and voter engagement. For example, CCEL maintains a robust website with information on election and voter resources, a voting FAQ and a list of upcoming Ohio election dates and deadlines. The office also offers transportation on Fridays leading up to the November election for students who wish to vote early at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. Also, Case Western Reserve University President Eric W. Kaler serves on the President’s Council of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge and has signed the ALL IN Presidential Commitment, which means that the university campus is dedicated to ensuring every eligible student has access to and uses their right to vote.
Crosby is hopeful that the trend at Case Western Reserve and among college voters continues. “This year is an extremely important election year, especially in Ohio. We have a governor’s race. We have a Secretary of State race. We have three Ohio Supreme Court justices up on the ballots. So it’s important that students make their voices heard in this election,” she says. “Students can protest, they can sign a petition and they can donate money to causes they care about. But if they aren’t showing up to the polls, then all those efforts are lost. It’s important that students know that if they are committed to their communities and if they care about the world around them, then voting is a strategy that they have in their toolboxes.”