Colby Votes is a partnership with the New England Small College Athletic Conference’s (NESCAC) voting initiative, the Campus Election Engagement Project (CEEP), and the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. Through the Colby Votes initiative, the college aims to graduate more civically-engaged citizens and advocate for a more inclusive democracy, by increasing voter registration and voter turnout/GOTV on campus. Colby Votes works to incorporate nonpartisan civic learning into curricular and co-curricular education, in order to adopt practices that will advance students’ political engagement and informed voter participation, and finally, register as many students on campus as possible.
Colby Votes Stakeholder Group: Stakeholder group members are the key Colby Votes leaders on campus. Individual members perform a variety of tasks and roles including running voter registration drives, tabling and organizing, overseeing educational outreach, creating and coordinating programs, and managing social media and communications. Faculty, staff, and administrators are also members of the group. The stakeholder group meets weekly in the fall at 5pm on Sundays (over Zoom), leading up to the election.
Colby Voting Captains: A Colby Voting Captain is a volunteer leader who builds and leads a Colby Voting Squad. As the Captain, you are responsible for holding your group accountable and leading them through the democratic process. You help to build excitement around the upcoming election, and you are the go-to-resource for your team as they navigate voting, many for the first time. Captains meet twice a month leading up the election. As a Colby Voting Captain, you must sign this pledge:
- I will attend a Colby Voting Captain training, and the twice-monthly meetings
- I will help my Squad register to vote in the municipality of their choice
- I will help my Squad members make a voting plan that works for them (and encourage vote-by-mail)
- I will ensure that all my Squad members actually cast their ballots and make their voices heard
- I will sign up for at least one Colby Votes volunteer shift each month
- I will follow @colbyvotes on Instagram, share all posts and resources, and encourage my Squad to do the same
- I will bring my Squad to at least one voter education or election engagement event
Here is some data:
- Student voter registration had increased from 64.8% in 2014 to 73.0% in 2018
- Student voting rates have remained significantly lower than registration rates; 2016 turnout at just 47.9%, 2 points below the average of all institutions
- 2018 midterms, Colby’s voting rate was 37.6% (even though we had a 73% registration rate)
- General election turnout increased by almost 5% from 2012 to 2016, while midterm turnout increased over 23% from 2014 to 2018. We have momentum!
- NESCAC has set a goal of increasing overall voting by 11% (1 point per school) from 2018 in the 2020 election. This collective and collaborative goal setting amongst peer institutions is the first of its kind in the country and is an exciting way to be involved in galvanizing democratic participation of students throughout New England.
- Colby’s voting rate is significantly below those of institutions like Middlebury, Tufts, and Bowdoin, which have over 50% participation in most recent election cycles. We are also competing with Bates and Bowdoin within the state of Maine, and have historically been significantly behind the two institutions when it comes to voter registration and turnout rates. We can change that!