VWU Designated as "Voter Friendly Campus"

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University's plan provided information and support for student voters

University News | March 9, 2021

Virginia Wesleyan University is one of more than 231 campuses in 37 states and the District of Columbia selected as a 2021-2022 “Voter Friendly Campus,” a designation the University has received for three consecutive years.

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 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. Virginia Wesleyan was evaluated based on a campus plan about how the University would register, educate, and turnout student voters in 2020, how VWU facilitated voter engagement efforts on campus, and a final analysis of the efforts—all in the face of the upheaval caused by a global pandemic.

Research by the Campus Vote Project suggests that college students face special challenges when attempting to register and vote in their college communities. They may lack information about voter registration rules and deadlines, not have acceptable ID for voter registration or voting purposes, not know where to vote and may not have transportation to the polls. The Campus Vote Project seeks to address these challenges in advance of election day to pave the way for successful student voter turnout.

The VWU Voter Friendly Campus Plan, coordinated by Dr. Brian Kurisky, Executive Director of Wesleyan Engaged: Civic Engagement and Service Learning, included working with staff in Hofheimer Library to provide voter registration information to students, faculty and staff to ensure that they were registered to vote in their assigned precincts. Voter registration cards were readily available, as was assistance with forwarding information to local voter registration sites. Information was also available on absentee ballots. Transportation, arranged through Wesleyan Engaged, was provided to students who wished to vote prior to election day. Before the semester started, all students received information regarding their home state's absentee ballot procedures and how to register in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

On Election Day, shuttle service was provided to Ebenezer Baptist Church, the polling place for the VWU community. In addition, VWU volunteers were recruited to serve as election officials at local polls.

“I commend Dr. Kurisky for leading this charge,” said VWU President Scott D. Miller. “The Virginia Wesleyan community worked to break down barriers and empower students with the information and tools they needed to participate in the political process, putting the civic mission of higher education into action.”

 The institutions designated Voter Friendly Campuses represent a wide range of two-year, four-year, public, private, rural, and urban campuses. The program is ultimately serving more than 3.5 million students.

Learn more about Wesleyan Engaged: Civic Engagement and Service Learning.