With over 85,000 credit students and six campuses, Lone Star College (LSC) is the largest higher education institution in the Houston area. Since the two furthest campuses are approximately one hour apart, TurboVote is a practical solution for engaging students across distant campuses. One in four local Houston area high school students choose to attend LSC, making the institution deeply tied to the community it serves.
Outstanding student portal success
Dr. Jay Theis, the Director of the Center for Civic Engagement at Lone Star College, collaborated with campus IT staff to place a banner on LSC’s online campus portal, iStar. The portal, which uses Oracle’s PeopleSoft Enterprise Campus Solutions, supports integral student services such as class registration. With such regular high traffic, the call-to-action banner for voter registration resulted in more than 1,000 TurboVote signups in the first week of its implementation.
Candidate forums with TurboVote
Lone Star fostered faculty and community involvement in their voter engagement initiatives. Dr. Theis sent an email to faculty to encourage them to let their students know that TurboVote is a resource available to them. With multiple entryways to TurboVote, students are more likely to sign up. Additionally, LSC was one of seven community colleges in The Democracy Commitment that was chosen to host a “Citizenship Under Siege” public forum sponsored by a National Endowment for the Humanities grant. The forum included speakers and a deliberative dialogue. LSC students, faculty, and staff participated, in addition to community members.
Students were involved in every step of the process. The Engage the Election initiative focused on getting students registered to vote and providing them with opportunities to become informed voters. Dr. Theis worked with civic engagement campus coordinators at each LSC campus to ensure programming, events, and resources were available to all students. Over the course of the 2016 election season, the Center for Civic Engagement sponsored 18 candidate forums. Student volunteers handed out business cards printed with the LSC TurboVote link at each forum. They also attended other campus events to distribute the cards, even if those events were unrelated to the election.
Voter registration and voter education
Importantly, LSC brought voter registration and voter education resources together. The Engage the Election webpage included links to TurboVote and explained the services that TurboVote provides. Additionally, links were provided to the Texas Secretary of State’s offices and county clerks for the four counties that have LSC campuses. Students could learn more about participating in Volunteer Deputy Voter Registrar trainings held on LSC campuses. Resources such as GovTrack and Politifact were shared on the page in order for students to learn more about elected officials and candidates. Effectively registering student voters is only one component in supporting civic learning and democratic engagement on campus.
It is important to consider how you can provide resources to students that help them learn about electoral processes and access reliable candidate information, too. Check out our list of youth civic engagement resources to learn more!