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  • Campus Vote Project

Campus Vote Project Announces Launch of Student Vote Research Network

Updated: Apr 26, 2022

Fair Election Center’s Campus Vote Project (CVP), in collaboration with the Students Learn Students Vote (SLSV) Coalition, the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge (ALL IN), and the Scholar Strategy Network, announced the launch of the Student Vote Research Network (SVRN), an inclusive, collaborative space for scholars, students, advocacy organizations and community practitioners to come together to grow college student voter engagement through research and programming.

The SVRN will combine cutting-edge research methodologies with deep institutional knowledge and rich on-the-ground experience from practitioners, producing actionable insights for policy makers, funders, and the public while addressing knowledge gaps about underrepresented student voting populations. In doing so, the newly-formed network will pioneer a strategy known as “inclusive consensus,” in which community partners and scholars co-create usable knowledge together, democratizing methods traditionally practiced exclusively by the academic community without direct input from on-the-ground partners.

As an organization dedicated to reducing barriers to student voting, CVP works with students and other researchers through its Research Collective to develop research that aids campuses in civic engagement and political education at higher education institutions. The Research Collective’s focuses include identifying barriers to political participation for marginalized communities and assessing how campus leaders can better support students navigate the political process.

“Mitigating the significant barriers to voter turnout and civic engagement that college students face relies on research that effectively informs policy change,” said Kassie Phebillo, Curriculum and Research Manager of Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project. “We’re eager to build on our existing capacity for research and illuminate these structural barriers for policymakers, campus administrators and student leaders who will advocate for these young voters nationwide.”

CVP also manages the HBCU Legacy Initiative, which uses in-depth interviews and other research methods to identify barriers to voting for HBCU and Black student voters throughout past elections. In collaboration with the NAACP Youth and College Division, the initiative’s 2022 Insights Brief identified voting barriers such as misinformation and counterproductive relationships with politicians as tactics that ultimately led to the decrease in voter participation, and recommended solutions such as creating groups of students to engage with local officials, increasing support for students interested in civic engagement and active listening sessions between students and administrators.

“Young Black college students and students attending HBCUs have always faced unique obstacles to making sure their voices are heard at the ballot,” sayid Dylan Sellers, National HBCU Manager of Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project. “By uplifting their lived experiences through research and open dialogue, we can inform American lawmakers and the general public to make change in ways that benefit our most-impacted youth.”

The nonpartisan student voting space has already seen such collaborations produce extraordinary results, such as the 2021 Menlo College study run by Dr. Melissa Michelson, who worked with the Ask Every Student (AES) initiative in a national study of more than 2,200 students at 14 campuses that participated in the national joint initiative that supports campus efforts to achieve full student voter registration by asking every student to participate in the democratic process. Through this collaboration, Dr. Michelson was able to produce ground-breaking scholarship that provided important confirmation of the efficacy of the AES program, as well as important insights on how to make the program even more effective in the future. Scholars, students, advocacy groups, and community practitioners will now have a dedicated space to collaborate for more extraordinary work.

“The SVRN is fundamentally about bridging gaps between groups – the academic community, community organizers and advocates, students - that traditionally operate separately, but share the same goals and will each benefit enormously from working with each other,” said SLSV Coalition ACLS Leading Edge Fellow Dr. Beatrice Wayne. “We want to bring the power of research to student nonpartisan civic engagement, and the experience and perspective of organizers to the academic community.”

The SVRN will officially launch on Wednesday, April 27, when it hosts the inaugural Workshop on the State of the Student Vote, a collaborative space for dialogue among scholars, students, and advocates dedicated to growing college student voter engagement. The workshop will provide an opportunity for attendees to share existing knowledge, workshop on-going projects, and brainstorm ideas about up-and-coming research initiatives.

The Student Vote Research Network is a joint effort of the Students Learn Students Vote Coalition, the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, the Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project, and the Scholar Strategy Network. Academic partners include Menlo College, the University of Maryland’s Center for Democracy and Civic Engagement, and the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University.


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