They are a key electoral constituency and yet today college students remain one of the most underrepresented voter groups in American democracy.
On March 3, to address this disparity, F&M Votes anticipates about 100 student organizers nationwide to attend a daylong student conference on voter engagement and activation at Franklin & Marshall College.
“We provide students information, tools and support for effectively organizing their campus’s get-out-the-vote efforts,” Associate Professor of History Van Gosse said. “This year’s elections are as important as ever, even more so, and student participation is critical.”
Gosse is co-chair of F&M Votes, a nonpartisan organization run by students, faculty, staff and alumni. Since 2004, the group's volunteers have mobilized thousands of students to register and directed students to their polling places, challenging perceptions that low student voting is inevitable.
“We are dedicated to grassroots organizing,” Gosse said. “We register at move-in day and in classes, followed by an intensive get-out-the-vote outreach before and on Election Day.”
The “Voters Organized Through Engagement” conference will feature national experts including Courtney Cochran, associate director of Campus Elections Engagement Project, a nonpartisan project to motivate students to register, volunteer for campaigns, know the issues, and vote.
“Students should leave with a sort of tool belt of skills in order to effectively register voters,” said junior Elizabeth Reed, an F&M Votes co-chair and conference organizer. “I also hope that students can gain enthusiasm and confidence to talk to their friends and peers about being registered to vote and why it's important and easy!”
During the conference, students will learn how to build an effective, nonpartisan coalition that helps students vote where they study. They will practice face-to-face voter registration techniques, and discuss how to mobilize students for this fall's congressional midterm elections.
“A lot of Franklin & Marshall students don't realize how amazing our voter turnout usually is, and that's why we decided to host the conference,” Reed said. “We have something very special here at F&M, and hopefully students will leave the conference with an understanding of that.”
For more information, contact:
F&M Votes Student Co-Chair Elizabeth Reed, firstname.lastname@example.org
F&M Votes Staff Co-Chair Jessica Haile, email@example.com
F&M Votes Faculty Co-Chair Van Gosse, firstname.lastname@example.org