This spring, Cornell University, along with over 235 campuses in 37 states and the District of Columbia, received designation as a "Voter Friendly Campus." The initiative, led by national nonpartisan organizations Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project (CVP) and NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, held participating institutions accountable for planning and implementing practices that encourage their students to register and vote in 2020 elections and in the coming years.
The mission of the Voter Friendly Campus designation is to bolster efforts that help students overcome barriers to participating in the political process. Cornell’s campus was evaluated based on a campus plan about how Cornell Votes would register, educate, and turnout student voters in 2020, how we facilitated voter engagement efforts on our campus, and a final analysis of our efforts- all in the face of the upheaval caused by a global pandemic. The designation is valid through December 2022.
Housed within the Cornell Public Service Center, Cornell Votes set out to increase voter registration, turnout, and civic engagement when the program launched in winter 2020. In response to the pandemic, the program and students pivoted quickly, utilizing social media, texting, holding virtual workshops and events, and providing resources to make voting participation more accessible.
"We are thrilled to be designated as a Voter Friendly Campus in keeping with Cornell Votes' mission to institutionalize voting and create a campus where every person exercises their right to have a voice in their representation," says Dana Karami '23, a student in the College of Human Ecology, majoring in the Policy Analysis Management and Vice-President of Operation of Cornell Votes. "This honor came with the hard work of Cornell Votes members, partner organizations, university-wide staff, and, most importantly, our fellow Cornellians. We are proud and look forward to continuing the work and remaining voter friendly always."
Cornell University has made a strong statement about higher education's civic mission to prepare students to be engaged participants in our democracy and it is exciting to continue engaging students through 2021, 2022, and beyond.
"It is an honor to be recognized for the institutional effort to support voter engagement that is core to Cornell's commitment to public service. Voting is fundamental to the community engagement work we do at Cornell's Public Service Center,” said Krista Saleet, Director of the Public Service Center. “Today's college students are tomorrow's leadership in communities all across the world so it is important for us to stress voting as a habit to representation, voice and progress. We are grateful for the recognition of our efforts to expand the vote during this pivotal election."
The institutions designated Voter Friendly Campuses represent a wide range of two-year, four-year, public, private, rural, and urban campuses. Notably, the list of designated institutions includes many Minority Serving Institutions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The program is ultimately serving over 3.5 million students.