UChiVotes was a student-led, non-partisan voter engagement initiative founded out of the Institute of Politics in August 2018 with the goal of boosting on-campus voter registration to 70 percent and turn-out to 40 percent for the November 2018 midterms. In under three months, the UChiVotes initiative helped the University of Chicago take over the top spot on TurboVote’s national rankings, with the University’s percentage of undergraduates signed up to TurboVote almost doubling the next closest school.
Here’s a recap of the UChiVotes push:
Launching in August, a group of the IOP's most engaged students sought out potential campus partners and students, known as Voting Ambassadors, to join the UChiVotes initiative. They worked with the Registrar's Office to build voter registration in the course confirmation process and launched their online presence on Facebook and Instagram. Students tabled across campus during Orientation, including at the IOP's Politipalooza, and numerous other campus fairs. The IOP held a series of Information Sessions to recruit even more Voting Ambassadors, answer questions about the initiative, and train students on the dos and don'ts of voter registration.
For the first time in history, UChicago was scheduled to host an on-campus polling place from Oct. 31-Nov. 2. Vote t-shirts were distributed across campus. Stamps were given to students to mail in their ballots. 1600 goodie bags were distributed in the dorms to encourage voting. 30 yard signs were planted on campus directing students to the polling place. And a campus-wide competition called "Pledge to Vote" was organized, leading to over 1,000 pledges.
Ultimately, over 80 percent of UChicago undergraduates signed up to TurboVote, making UChicago the #1 school in the country in percent of student body registered to vote, nearly doubling the #2 school, Harvard. Around 4,400 undergraduates in all registered to TurboVote. The UChiVotes team received coverage for their success in a variety of news outlets, including an interview with NBC5 and a piece in USA Today.
We won't know voter turnout numbers for a few months, but it is clear from the registration push that UChiVotes was a success, especially for a first-of-its-kind program that it was.