Students from across the country are attracted to Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., so it's challenging to serve the voter engagement needs of students on campus, given that they are from so many different states. TurboVote is particularly useful, as it helps students register to vote whether they chose to vote in D.C. or in their home state.
Undergraduate and graduate students from GU Votes take the lead implementing TurboVote at Georgetown. GU Votes is a student-led initiative that emerged from Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service (GU Politics) to expand civic awareness, increase voter registration levels among Georgetown students, and institutionalize civic engagement efforts on campus. In advance of the 2016 election, student leaders initially set a goal to register 1000 Georgetown students to vote with the campaign #1000GUVotes.
In September, GU Votes surpassed their goal and set a new goal of #1500GUVotes. Ultimately, nearly 1,600 Georgetown students signed up for TurboVote in 2016!
Ice cream: a tasty way to recruit volunteers
GU Votes executed a strategy that involved collaborating with organizations and offices across campus to reach nearly ten percent of the Georgetown student body. To recruit volunteers, GU Votes student leaders attended the GU Politics ice cream social at the beginning of the fall semester to connect with students interested in political engagement. GU Votes utilized the GU Politics newsletter and social media to recruit additional volunteers. Due to their collaborative relationship with GU Politics, GU Votes had the opportunity to post on social media frequently about getting involved with their initiative. The hard work paid off when one week after the ice cream social, over 30 students attended a TurboVote training session.
Storm the dorm!
GU Votes tapped into their volunteer base as frequently as possible. They made sure to set up tables with laptops at a number of GU Politics events, including debate watch parties attended by hundreds of students. GU Votes worked with over 20 student organizations and not only made announcements at their meetings but also tabled to sign students up for TurboVote at other organizations’ events.
One of GU Votes’s most successful events was Storm the Dorm. In late September, volunteers tabled at five campus residence halls and the library. According to GU Votes co-founder and Undergraduate Outreach Co-Chair, Bethan Saunders, tabling with laptops at residence hall entrances proved to be more successful and efficient than going door-to-door registering voters on paper. GU Votes volunteers had multiple chances to catch students as they would come in and out of buildings.