The Issue:

With hectic, fluctuating schedules, long trips to and from their campuses, limited transportation options and more, students face unique challenges when casting their ballots. They often have trouble reaching distant polling places or collecting the necessary documentation to vote for the first time in a new place, and finding what documentation is needed is a challenge itself.  Politicians across the country know how powerful students’ votes are, and they have repeatedly made efforts to limit students’ voting rights. It’s important that voting is made to be quick, straightforward, and accessible for all voters without targeted and unnecessary restrictions.

The Solutions:

  1. Requiring Polling Places on College Campuses would greatly help students find the time to vote, especially if they don’t have access to a car or other transportation to get to distant polling places on election day.
  2. Accepting Student IDs and other school documentation as valid forms of identification would help students establish residency on their campuses (especially in the states where IDs are required to vote even after the first time). Student IDs are often government issued and just as suitable for identification purposes as many other accepted forms of identification. Excluding them harms students, especially out-of-state students who may not have other documentation from the state they go to college in.
  3. Early and Mail-In Voting allows students greater flexibility in casting their ballots, especially if they wish to vote in their hometown but are unable to travel back to vote in person.

Note: Online voting has also been proposed as a way to make elections more accessible. While it has been implemented in some specific circumstances, experts agree that online voting cannot be securely implemented while respecting the privacy of voters. As such, proven, safe, and accessible solutions like early voting, mail-in voting, and ADA compliant polling locations are preferable. 

Take Action:

Polling place locations are determined by local county election commissions or boards of elections, so contacting them is often the most effective way to get a polling place on your campus. As states create the rules for which kinds of identification are acceptable, advocating to your state legislators or election officials (often your state’s Secretary of State, Board of Elections, or Election Commission) can help ensure student IDs are accepted. On the federal level, the Youth Voting Rights Act would, among many pro-youth reforms, guarantee polling places on college campuses and require states to accept student IDs as voter IDs.

Next Campaign

Modernizing Voter Registration