Build Momentum For Election Day

Build excitement and visibility in advance of Election Day to turn out student voters.


Educate on the mechanics of voting, in order to decrease anxiety and avoid confusion.

  • Encourage students to make a plan for how and when they’ll cast their vote. Research shows that making a concrete plan significantly increases the likelihood of voting.
  • Set up mock polling places, perhaps in the student union, with sample ballots and voting machines, if you can obtain, them for students to practice voting and consider how they’ll vote.
  • Such “dry runs” can assure new voters they’re bringing the proper ID and filling out the ballot as they intend. They also encourage them to learn about issues and candidates in advance.
  • Publicize voter ID requirements and help students secure all necessary materials, like letters from the college President, the right kinds of student IDs, or other IDs if your state doesn’t accept student IDs as a form of voter ID. The latter may require extra initiative, like car pools or shuttles to Department of Motor Vehicle sites for students who don’t drive.
  • Hold rallies and election-related festivals. These should be combined with concrete activities like registration drives, volunteer recruitment and pledges to vote.
  • Entertain as you engage and educate. Capture students’ attention with “guerrilla theater.” Use flash mobs and theater to gather crowds in visible places and then hand out voter pledges as well as registration and voting information.

Create a visual presence to encourage voting, remind of key deadlines, and educate about what to bring to the polls.

  • Display posters, banners, signs and sandwich boards as permitted.
  • Create voter-participation commercials to play on internal media networks, like residence hall TV
  • channels, the TVs at the student union, or the athletic stadium Jumbotron.
  • Provide chalk so students can draw messages and images on campus walkways to encourage
  • voting, share key websites and reasons they are voting, and announce activities.
  • Combine these kinds of visual approaches with email and social media outreach through
  • platforms such as Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat, Thunderclap, and Vine.
  • Hand out voting-related stickers to go on everything from bicycles to water bottles.

Use social media to promote campus events, remind of key deadlines, and connect students to the larger election conversation.

  • Create a hashtag for your campus election efforts (like #UWvotes) and encourage students to share their election activities and GOTV messages through their social media networks.
  • Create and distribute a social media toolkit for campus organizations that includes relevant hashtags, usernames, and suggested language for tweets or postings.
  • Share this toolkit with all the key campus leaders you’ve been working with, and ask them to use their Twitter or Facebook pages to encourage their followers to vote.
  • Ask prominent campus leaders such as athletes stars and well-known alumni to retweet your content using your election-related hashtag.

If you have the funds, consider placing Facebook ads targeting students on your campus.

  • Try a new ad each day leading up to Election Day with a slightly different message and a countdown to remaining deadlines and to Election Day.
  • In the weeks before the election, encourage students, faculty, and staff to have computer homepages and social media accounts include links to your school’s election-related website.
  • Include specific information on where students can vote, hours and locations for any early voting stations, and what they need to bring in terms of voter ID. If you have shuttles to off-campus polls, include that information as well.
  • Link to CEEP’s nonpartisan candidate guides and distribute them as widely as possible.

Use Halloween to highlight the election.

  • Trick or Vote encourages canvassing on or around Halloween using trick-or-treating as an opportunity for door-to-door contact with potential voters. Take advantage of parties to spread voter education, voter rights, and get out the vote messages.
  • Hand out candy messages. Get some bags of candy and stick or tie small messages to them (“Vote Nov 6,” “Bring ID to the polls,” “What time are you voting?” or “How are you getting to the polls?”). Then put on a costume and hand them out on campus.
  • Hold Halloween parties with election-related themes.

Hold absentee ballot parties for students registered out of state.

  • Students can get their necessary ID info photocopied while privately casting their ballots, addressing them, and stacking them to be mailed.
  • Give students stamps to use to mail back their ballots, or make them available to buy.

North Carolina Campus Compact held a statewide “Why I Plan to Vote” contest for student video testimonials on why elections mattered, which they distributed to member schools.

Florida State University students formed a flash mob, gathering in the student union with t-shirts promoting the voting date and slogans like “I vote for education” or “I vote for health care.” They froze for five minutes to let the crowd look at them. Then they moved on, did the same thing elsewhere on the campus, and repeated it again.

James Madison University’s 18,000-student campus got 10,000 people attending a series of convention and debate-watch parties, then arranged election-day vans and buses when local transportation authorities refused to help.

In the 2010 midterm elections, a single get-out-the-vote message sent to 61 million Facebook users on Election Day influenced roughly 340,000 people to vote.

Maine College of Art had a competition to create voter-engagement posters.

North Carolina A&T State University’s 2008 “AGGIES Get Out to Vote” rally included live music, food, and voter registration tables. Including off-campus registration drives, the school estimated their efforts reached 12,000 students, faculty, and community members.

At Bunker Hill Community College, the largest in Massachusetts, the Office of Community Engagement helped students in Visual Media Art create 300 Get Out the Vote posters that they displayed throughout the campus.

Miami Dade Community College’s Wolfson campus organized a “Don’t Cast a Zombie Vote” event and walk to bring attention to the importance of being an informed voter.

Minnesota’s Anoka-Ramsey Community College held an event called “Are You Scared to Vote?”