It shouldn’t be hard to vote on college campuses. That’s where the MTV Campus Challenge comes in. 

Are you a current college student? Great. This toolkit will guide you step by step through how to bring new voting options to your campus that make it easier to VOTE in the 2022 election.

Now, why is this so important?

Voting rates among young people have been trending up for several years. We need to do everything we can to continue to build on this momentum and help all college-age voters participate in our elections. Young people voted at double the rate in the 2018 midterms as they did in the 2014 midterms. In 2020 we saw youth turnout soar to 50% up from just 36% in 2016. These trends are amplified even more on college and university campuses where student turnout reached 66%, on par with the national voting average of 67%. We are seeing strong enthusiasm for civic participation, and students are leading the charge. 

Unfortunately, the ease with which college students can vote depends largely on the state and zip code in which they reside. Just in 2021, 34 new laws adopted in 19 states restricted people’s access to voting, meaning that critical voices remain absent from our democracy. The good news is that together, we have the ability to overcome these obstacles and bring the ballot box to campuses across the country.

Why are on-campus voting sites important? 

Students and youth often cite the inconvenience of their polling location as a barrier to voting, and one-third of respondents noted lack of transportation alone as the reason they did not vote

On-campus voting sites allow students to:

  • Avoid seeking and paying for transportation to (frequently distant) off-campus locations; 
  • Encourage students to register to vote using their campus address; and,
  • Raise the visibility of elections, especially for primaries, specials, and off-year elections, so that students are more inclined to cast ballots. 

Bringing on-campus voting options to your campus drives excitement and engagement in the democratic process, increases student activism, and ensures that your community is fairly represented. See here for success stories from other campuses. 

We recommend pursuing any on-campus voting sites well in advance of the next election. Contacting local elections officials up to a year before a target election allows time for the planning and approval process

Using this toolkit

This toolkit serves as a step-by-step guide to working with your institution and local elections officials to bring (or keep!) a voting site on your campus. Throughout the toolkit, you’ll see tangible steps, general info, common approaches, and advice from campuses that have done this before - all with the same end goal: to help you secure an on-campus voting site

While using this toolkit, keep in mind that every campus and voting jurisdiction are unique and may have different requirements. What’s common throughout though? That this process takes dedication, perseverance, community-building, and passion. 

If you have any questions about this toolkit, need advice about preparing these different pieces, are unsure of the requirements specific to your area, or would like to learn more about the work we do, feel free to reach out! You can request support on any of the components in this toolkit by reaching out to the team at Campus Vote Project and Fair Elections Center for assistance at info@campusvoteproject.org.

How to enter the Campus Challenge

While our main goal is helping you place a new early voting site, we know there are a lot of steps to get to that point and a variety of ways that you can help move the needle on voting access on your campus.

By entering the 2022 MTV Campus Challenge, you will have the chance to win additional funding to be put towards Vote Early Day festivities on campus (to be used for food, DJs, decorations, rental fees, transportation, swag etc.) - Note: Vote Early Day this year will take place on Friday, October 28th.

To be eligible to enter this program and win additional funding, you must:

  • Be a legal resident of the United States and currently enrolled as a student at a 2-year or 4-year college or university;
  • Be on a campus that is more than one (1) mile away from a voting option in the 2020 election year (i.e. Election Day polling place or early voting site) and/or where enrollment numbers require additional support/new sites be established on the campus, and
  • Located in a state where in person early voting is permitted.

For a full list of campus challenge actions and point allocations, assessment criteria, and rules, please go here.

If you meet these eligibility criteria, please send an email to info@campusvoteproject.org with 1) your full legal name, 2) the name of the college or university in which you are currently enrolled, 3) your class year, and 4) Name and contact information, along with a letter of approval /support from a campus administrator (e.g. professor, dean, advisor etc.) by April 15, 2022.