“Young people are the future.” You’ve probably heard this phrase often, especially if you work in higher ed. 

And it’s no wonder. Faculty and staff at colleges and universities lead the effort in helping students become the leaders of tomorrow. But, there’s another thing you can do to help. You can play a leading role in encouraging young people to vote.

A few years ago, when I was a college student, one of my passions was supporting marketing and communications for several student-voter advocacy organizations. I had a chance to see how influential faculty and staff at an institution could be in supporting the student vote. 

Although Election Day is just around the corner, it’s not too late for you and your campus colleagues to get involved in supporting those efforts. Based on my experience, here are six of my week-of election strategies. 

1) Remain nonpartisan.

Although it might go without saying, providing partisan links or other resources regarding the election can get you into hot water. Even as a youth voter advocate, I remember having to place special care in evaluating the resources I shared — they can be sneaky! For higher education marketing teams, it’s no different. When evaluating whether to share a resource, I’d start by researching the creator of the resource. I would make sure to go beyond what is said in their “about” section, if they have one, and do a keyword search on Google. Which leads me to my next tip…

2) Don't reinvent the wheel.

If you don’t have a lot of time to vet resources, here are three of my go-to nonpartisan options:  

3) Be informative.

Develop week-of voting programming on social media that aims to increase student understanding of the electoral process. The top four topics you can speak on are deadlines, voting requirements, polling locations, and vote-by-mail options. From experience, I can tell you that your students will be Googling these topics. So, make things easier for them by providing easy-to-find information and resources. 

4) Create contagious excitement.

Excitement and passion around election cycles are infectious. In my experience, young people may respond better to narratives saying that “voting can be easy and fun” vs. narratives saying “it is your duty to society.” For example, during the 2020 presidential election, CIRCLE at Tufts University reported that half of young voters, aged 18-29, voted in the 2020 election — the highest recorded in history. In my opinion, this kind of turnout was  partially due to the encouraging nature of the  “get-out-the-vote" campaigns that year. I think they resonated with young voters because the campaigns painted voter participation as an exciting, novel activity that can give students a tangible voice. At the same time, they often removed some of the barriers young people face in the civic process—including voter “know-how.”

5) Make your messaging accessible.

You want to ensure that your messaging is accessible to all students — regardless of whether they have a disability or not. So, be sure to take this into account as you develop content. For example, if you have the ability to send information directly to students via their student inbox, provide information in both visual and audible formats, or provide resources in several languages, those are great avenues to explore.

6) Be aware of rules and regulations.

Finally, each college or university may have different rules regarding student voter education (think for marketing and communications, student organizations, and employees). So, be sure to research these before you start sharing resources and information with your students. 

 From marketing strategies to encourage students to vote, to tips on being a thought leader or launching an online course, the Net Natives team can speak on many issues that can help you do your job better. Get in contact with an expert today.