Campus Activation Ideas

Campus Activation Ideas

With every Vote Early Day celebration, we want to help as many voters as possible take measurable steps toward casting their ballot in a fun and engaging atmosphere. We encourage each of our campus partners to design a celebration that best fits the needs of voters in their community. This guide will help provide some inspiration and suggestions for activation ideas, but how you celebrate is totally up to you!


Celebrate by Casting Ballots as a Community

Overview:

Help voters in your community cast their ballots with a big public celebration! If you have a location for voting early or a ballot drop box on campus, set up an event outside so people can have fun with their friends and neighbors as they cast their ballots early. Make this a campus-wide effort – partner with a variety of student groups (in the past, we’ve seen great success with athletics, cultural organizations, and Greek life) and hold a competition to see which group can mobilize the most voters. Encourage attendees to take selfies with their “I voted” stickers at the event and tag #VoteEarlyDay to amplify the celebration to a national audience.

If you don’t have a location for voting early on campus, check to see if there’s one within walking distance. Otherwise, work with your local election official to bring one to campus before voting starts. Use this resource to get started!

Examples:

  • Host a party at the polls:
    Invite your campus community to celebrate the act of voting early by throwing them a party! Bring in performers, set up games, and pump some music outside your campus’s location for voting early or ballot drop box. Partner with different organizations across campus to draw in as many students as possible. Make casting a ballot the focus of the fun – lead the crowd in cheers as people come out of the polls with their “I voted” stickers! For the students who aren’t registered to vote on campus, help them request their absentee ballots or locate their home polling place using the Vote Early Day online voter tool (coming soon). In the past, campus groups have put on concerts, hosted picnics and potlucks, and brought in inflatable games outside of their campus location for voting early. Halloween is right around the corner, so consider doing the celebration in costume and hosting some early trick-or-treating too. The sky’s the limit – be creative with how you celebrate and get some new voices in to cast a ballot!
  • Cast ballots as a residence hall:
    Residence halls are always looking for new events, and Vote Early Day makes for the perfect dorm celebration! Gather residents together and go as a group to cast ballots at a polling location or at a ballot drop box. Have students take selfies with their “I voted” stickers, and hang the photos on the floor bulletin board and post them on social media—don’t forget to use #VoteEarlyDay!
  • Organize rides to the polls:
    If your campus doesn’t have an on-campus location for voting early, coordinate shuttles to get students to the closest polling place off campus. See if your campus has transportation available, or organize a fleet of volunteer cars and ride in style. Make a plan on where to meet and advertise your service to the campus community. To add some fun, decorate your cars, put together some playlists (we recommend the Vote Early Day Spotify playlist!) and go together in a parade or caravan. 
  • Make a public art display:
    Draw attention to local options for voting early through art! Partner with your art department or simply use some chalk to attract and direct people to your community’s ballot drop box or location to vote early. Make your masterpiece a campus-wide effort by inviting students to participate in its creation or by hosting a public unveiling of the finished product.
  • Participate in “Polling Place Vote Tripling”:
    The best people to convince someone to vote are usually their friends and family, and your organization can help scale up those conversations with a technique called “vote tripling.” On Vote Early Day, station a few volunteers outside your campus’s location for voting early, and as voters are leaving ask them to text three of their friends with a reminder to vote early. To make it easy, encourage the voter to text over the Vote Early Day online voter tool. You can find out more about vote tripling tips and best practices here

Goals:

For Vote Early Day celebrations at the polls, we will measure our success nationwide by the number of voters who take one of the following actions: 

  • Cast a ballot during a Vote Early Day event (either in person or with a ballot drop box) 
  • Attend a Vote Early Day celebration
  • Post a photo on social media with their “I voted” sticker and tag #VoteEarlyDay

As you begin to plan out your activation, you can use this worksheet to determine an achievable goal for your organization. 

Why this celebration works:

With a big event, students have a fun reason to come out to vote on Vote Early Day. Instead of being just an item somewhere on their to-do list, voting becomes the highlight of their day! A community celebration is also a low barrier to entry into the civic space for people who are sometimes intimidated by political- and election-related discourse.


Celebrate by Educating Voters

Overview:

Help students both understand their options for voting early and take an active step toward casting their ballot on Vote Early Day! Make voting early more accessible to the public through a fun and educational event or direct voter outreach. 

Examples:

  • Tabling:
    Set up a table in a high-traffic area and help people learn about their options to vote early and make a plan to cast their ballot on Vote Early Day. Encourage them to use the Vote Early Day online voter tool or fill out a card with their plan to vote (coming soon), and make sure they know about their campus options to vote early. Be strategic in picking your location – dining halls, the student center, and the quad are often great options. Decorate the display and pump some music to get in the holiday spirit. Don’t wait for people to come to you – actively engage with everyone who comes by! 
  • Interactive discussion or webinar:
    Put together an informational event about why it is so important for people to make their voices heard this fall, and help students understand how, when, and where they can vote early. Be creative in recruiting participants! Invite staff from a local election office, campus professors, and community leaders to be panelists, and facilitate a conversation with the audience about why this election matters. By the end of the event, make sure all attendees have made a plan (using our online voter tool or by filling out a postcard – both materials coming soon) for how they will cast their ballot early. 
  • Pitch during class about voting early:
    Ask if you can give a brief pitch about voting early at the beginning of class or a club meeting. Share why voting is important to you and discuss what’s at stake in this election. Using the Vote Early Day online voter tool or our print-at-home cards, make sure everyone leaves class with a plan for casting their ballot early. You can find a sample script here
  • Promotion at an athletic event:
    If a campus athletic team is having a game on or around Vote Early Day, use the opportunity to promote voting early! Set up a table outside the stadium to help spectators make a plan to vote, and see if you can get a shoutout during halftime that advertises campus options for voting early.
  • Election-related campus events:
    Campus events can be a fun and accessible way for students to learn more about elections and the issues that affect our daily lives. In past years, groups have hosted movie screenings, open mics, and trivia nights that feature topics related to elections or civic engagement. By the end of the event, make sure all attendees have made a plan to vote using the Vote Early Day online voter tool or our print-at-home cards (coming soon)
  • Door knocking:
    One of the most effective ways to encourage people to vote early is to knock on their door and ask them directly. Get contact information for registered voters from your local election office, and head out in small groups to knock on doors in dorms or in neighborhoods off campus. You can find our sample door knocking script here.
  • Phone/text banking:
    Reach out to voters directly through phone calls and text messages. Get contact information for registered voters from your local election office, and get together with friends (don’t forget the snacks!) and start connecting with voters about their options to vote early. Make sure each voter you contact knows how, when, and where they can cast their ballot early. 

Goals:

For Vote Early Day educational celebrations, we will measure our success nationwide by the number of voters who take one of the following actions: 

  • Make a concrete plan for when and where they will cast their ballot
  • Fill out a pledge that they will cast their ballot early
  • Find their location for voting early (either in person or with a ballot drop box) 
  • Request their absentee ballot

As you begin to plan out your activation, you can use this worksheet to determine an achievable goal for your organization. 

Why this celebration works:

Studies show that people are much more likely to vote if they make a concrete plan for how they’re going to cast their ballot. Many students are first-time voters who may not know about their options for voting early, so it’s important that we help them out! Vote Early Day celebrations are the perfect opportunity to help voters think through their options for voting early and decide which method works best for them. 


Celebrate by Sharing the Tools to Vote Early 

Overview:

Use your organization’s platform to help ensure that voters have the resources they need to cast their ballot early and help make voting early the norm for your campus community.

Examples:

  • Launch a #VoteEarlyDay social media campaign:
    Give your campus the tools they need to vote early by sharing resources on social media. Direct your audience to the Vote Early Day online voter tool, where they can find their location to vote early and make a plan to vote. Post across all your social media platforms using our sample social media posts and graphics for the biggest effect
  • Encourage your audience to post their “I Voted” selfies:
    After they vote early, encourage the people who follow you on social media to post selfies with their “I voted” stickers. Reshare their posts to amplify their message! Let your audience know about the special Vote Early Day Instagram stickers, Snapchat filters, sample Instagram story templates for inspiration (coming soon). Make sure they tag #VoteEarlyDay in all posts!
  • Join a #VoteEarlyDay Twitterstorm to get resources about voting early trending online:
    We will be hosting several Twitterstorms in the weeks leading up to Vote Early Day. These are national days of action where our partners come together to flood Twitter with positive messages and resources for voting early. To participate, get members of your organization together (in person or virtually) and tweet resources and reminders about voting early using the hashtag #VoteEarlyDay. Have a friendly competition to see who can tweet the most or get the most engagement with their tweets! Learn more about our Twitterstorms here
  • Write an article in your campus paper about voting early:
    Spread the word about voting early through your campus paper! You can share your voting story, what this election means to you, and what people’s options are for voting early. Include a link to the Vote Early Day online voter tool (coming soon) to make it easy for readers to make a plan to vote. Give your campus editors a few weeks’ notice and see if you can coordinate with them to have the letter published on Vote Early Day. Find more tips for letters to the editor here
  • Integrate Vote Early Day resources into your online platform:
    Give students the opportunity to learn more about voting early while they’re on your campus’s digital platforms. Integrate the Vote Early Day online voter tool into your website, student service portal, or Canvas/Blackboard pages to make it easy for students to access all the resources they need to cast their ballot early.
  • Send out an email blast about voting early:
    Ask if your president, dean, or other leader on campus can send out an email blast to the student body to let them know when, where, and how they can cast their ballot ahead of Election Day. In the email, direct students to the Vote Early Day online voter tool (coming soon) to find their location for voting early in person or with a ballot drop box.

Goals:

For Vote Early Day celebrations that share tools to vote early, we will measure our success nationwide by the number of voters who take one of the following actions: 

  • Make a concrete plan for when and where they will cast their ballot
  • Find their location for voting early (either in person or with a ballot drop box) 
  • Request their absentee ballot
  • Post a photo with their “I voted” sticker and tag #VoteEarlyDay

As you begin to plan out your activation, you can use this worksheet to determine an achievable goal for your organization. 

Why this celebration works:

Studies show that people are much more likely to vote if they make a concrete plan for how they’re going to cast their ballot. When you share Vote Early Day’s online voter tool, you make it easy for voters to make this plan. 

People are also more inclined to vote if they see that their friends and family are doing so as well. By encouraging the people who follow you on social media to share their voting experience online, you help create a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) for anyone who hasn’t yet joined in on the fun. 

If you have encountered a problem with voting, please call this national nonpartisan hotline: 866-OUR-VOTE.