The Fighting Irish stand out from the crowd in the realm of civic engagement on campus. Under the leadership of staff at the Center for Social Concerns and the faculty director of the Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy, the University of Notre Dame has taken advantage of both on-the-ground and online opportunities to become a shining example of a mid-sized university that has used TurboVote to engage students, staff, and faculty in the democratic process.
Bringing a voter registration group together
Notre Dame faculty and staff were dedicated to creating an environment that empowered the students to be active and get their peers involved in civic engagement efforts. To this end, they assembled a task force of more than 15 student organization leaders to lead a registration, education, and mobilization campaign called ‘ND Votes.’ These students then designated a campaign liaison in each residence hall who would be well-versed in the nuances of TurboVote and accessible to students where they live to answer questions about the tool or voter registration in general.
In addition to empowering students in the residence halls and hosting regular issue-focused educational events throughout the primary season, the student task force also took advantage of key opportunities to have a presence at popular student venues. This included a regular voter registration and education table in the student center on Sunday evenings, a high-traffic moment.
Meeting faculty, staff, and students where they are: online
As home to just over 12,000 students, the Notre Dame team knew in-person efforts would be best paired with an online presence that would allow them to reach even more campus members. In the summer of 2016, the IT department incorporated TurboVote within Notre Dame’s one-stop portal for faulty, staff, and students by way of a call-to-action banner linked up to the university’s TurboVote site. In turn, when students go to complete daily tasks like registering for classes or accessing their syllabi, they are also prompted to sign up for TurboVote. Additionally, there is a banner ad on the welcome weekend app for all incoming students featuring the link to the ND TurboVote portal.
Capitalizing on in-person energy at events
At new student orientation this fall, the task force will staff tables with laptops ready to go on the TurboVote welcome screen, allowing students both behind and in front of the table to engage in conversation about the importance of voter engagement at Notre Dame.
Furthermore, the student task force will capitalize upon the presidential election hype by partnering with the the campus-wide debate watch parties hosted by the university president and will host multiple voter education events throughout the fall semester. At all these events there will be task force members ready to help students register through TurboVote on laptops and mobile devices.
These strategies, combined with an email blast from the administration to all Notre Dame students urging them to register for upcoming elections, saw immediate and widespread success. In only their first year as a TurboVote partner, Notre Dame has generated more than 1,400 signups, proof that teamwork, thoughtful planning, and innovative strategies can help raise the bar for student voter engagement and make our democracy work better.