Following Record Youth Turnout in 2020, MTV Announces “Voting Early is Easier” With Plan to Make Voting Easier for Millions of Students Without Voting Options on Campus to Return to the Polls for the Midterms
MTV’s first-of-its-kind research finds that 74% of colleges had no polling sites in 2020; 90% did not have in-person early voting options on campus Innovative program will protect and place new polls at community colleges and universities for young voters who cite transportation and inconvenient location as top reasons for not voting
March 10, 2022 08:30 AM Eastern Standard Time
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--MTV, the global brand that pioneered youth voter engagement, announced today its 2022 election program Voting Early is Easier, designed to help young voters return to the ballot box following their record turnout in 2020. MTV partnered with a team of students working on their Duke University Master in Interdisciplinary Data Science program to study access to voting on college campuses, and early findings show that in 2020, in the 35 states where Election Day polling information is available, 74% of college campuses did not have in-person voting options on campus, affecting at least 6.6 million students. The research also found that the lack of access is more pronounced for students at 2-year community colleges than 4-year institutions.
“It is heartwarming to hear that our efforts can be used to initiate meaningful campaigns aiming to promote the next generation to vote in the US elections.”
While college students voted at a higher rate than youth voters overall in 2020, ease of access to voting sites – including transportation and inconvenient locations – were consistent barriers cited by young people who did not vote. In particular, demand for early voting options has risen dramatically in recent years, but in the 35 states that meaningfully allow for early voting, 90% of colleges did not have in-person early voting options on their campus. Local election infrastructure hasn’t kept pace with the needs of college voters.
Building off of the success of Vote Early Day which MTV founded in 2020, today, as part of the Voting Early is Easier campaign, MTV is launching a 2022 Campus Challenge to help expand access to voting options for young people on college campuses. In partnership with Campus Vote Project, MTV will empower students to bring new early voting options to campuses through a 2022 Campus Challenge, focusing primarily on community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and large public universities.
As part of the Campus Challenge, MTV today launched an open-source toolkit available at Challenge.VotingEarlyisEasier.com for students across the country to learn how to advocate for placing new voting options on their campus. Schools and students will also be eligible to receive grants to support their Vote Early Day celebrations.
"Local and national elections are often decided by a few thousand, if not hundreds of, votes, so we are excited to help bring voting options closer to millions of students to make it easier for them to vote,” said Chris McCarthy, President & CEO, Paramount Media Networks & MTV Entertainment Studios. “Where and what type of school you go to should not dictate whether you can easily cast your ballot.”
In 2020, MTV invested in a successful pilot version of this election program with the Students Learn Students Vote Coalition, the Alliance for Youth Organizing, and Campus Vote Project to defend and expand polling locations on college campuses. Two-thirds of the participating campuses in 14 states were effective in expanding voting access on campus. According to data from Tufts’ Institute for Democracy & Higher Education at the Tisch College of Civic Life, campuses that took part in MTV’s pilot program voted at higher than the national average in 2020.
“The fact that a vast majority of colleges lack in-person voting options and accessible polling places should concern everyone,” said Mike Burns, national director of Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project. “As our country’s most diverse generation in history, young voters continue to be at the forefront of tackling our nation’s most pressing issues—from racial equity and criminal justice reform to climate change. Yet, they face some of the most difficult and unique obstacles to voting. We’re excited to be partnering with MTV on this campaign, because we know our nation is better off when young people are fully heard at the ballot box.”
"I'm delighted to lead these students in this important Capstone research project that highlights the important and timely issue of voter access, enabling them to apply their learning in the classroom into beneficial research that impacts them and their fellow students," said Dr. Greg Herschlag, Director of Duke MIDS Capstone project. "This project brings a unique partnership with MTV, together with our interdisciplinary teams of faculty and data science students, to generate real-world insights that can drive change."
"It has been a privilege to serve on this project. Discussions surrounding voting in underrepresented populations often center around limited voting access,” said Dapo Adegbile, Duke Masters Student. ‘I’m excited our group was able to provide clarity to these discussions by contextualizing and quantifying the actual barriers that exist for college students. It is my hope that our efforts will be constructive in identifying true obstacles so that meaningful change in voter accessibility occurs in future elections."
" I am honored to be a part of this project which has an immense impact on the future of our country,” said Pranav Manjunath, Duke Masters Student. “It is heartwarming to hear that our efforts can be used to initiate meaningful campaigns aiming to promote the next generation to vote in the US elections."
"Evaluating voting access for campuses across the United States has been complex, but also an incredibly rewarding use of my academic training,” said Jasmine Young, Duke Masters Student. “It's been inspiring to be part of a Capstone with so much impact. I know first-hand that voting as a college student can be complicated, so I hope our efforts can increase access for students across the United States."
In addition to its new campus program, MTV will continue to build upon its 2020 efforts through its investment in Vote Early Day, the non-partisan holiday to get Americans to vote early on October 28, 2022. MTV is one of the founding partners of the coalition that turned out nearly three million voters on one day alone in 2020. MTV was also one of the founding partners of Power the Polls, a coalition of companies and organizations that saved in-person voting in 2020 by recruiting 700,000 new, younger and healthy poll workers during the pandemic. MTV will continue to engage young, diverse, multi-lingual poll workers who can help keep polling places staffed and open.
Advisory Committee members include organizations and student ambassadors/alumni who have expertise in expanding campus voting access. These advisors include representatives from:
Alliance for Youth Organizing
The Students Learn Students Vote Coalition
Thurgood Marshall College Fund
Vote HBCU, a program of Xceleader, as well as, students:
- Maya Patel, UT Austin & Harvard Kennedy School
- Aigné Taylor, North Carolina A&T
- Dylan Villalon, San Antonio Community College & Texas A&M San Antonio
About MTV Entertainment Group
MTV Entertainment Group is a preeminent global media company, connecting with its audiences through nine iconic brands including MTV, Comedy Central, VH1, CMT, Pop, Logo, Smithsonian, Paramount Network and TV Land. Additionally, MTV Entertainment Studios produces award-winning series, movies and documentary films. MTVE also uses its reach for social impact, spearheading broad change-driven coalitions through mental health and civic engagement campaigns.
About Campus Vote Project
Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project works with universities, community colleges, faculty, students and election officials to reduce barriers to student voting and helps campuses institutionalize reforms that empower students with the information they need to register and vote.
About Duke MIDS The Duke University Master in Interdisciplinary Data Science (MIDS) is home for creative problem solvers who want to use data strategically to advance society. MIDS combines rigorous computational and technical training with field knowledge and repeated practice in critical thinking, teamwork, communication, and collaborative leadership to generate data scientists who can add value to any field.
See original MTV press release here.