Students have the right to vote in the towns and cities where they attend college if they so choose.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld this right in Symm v. United States (1979). However, students have sometimes been confronted with false information and hostile community members that have tried to prevent them from voting where they attend school.
Through our Campus Vote Project, FELN has been active in supporting students’ right to vote by encouraging election officials and college administrators to work closely with students to ensure that students have equal access to voter registration and voting. Studies show that young people are interested in policy issues and the democratic process, but restrictions such as confusing residency rules and strict identification requirements create barriers to voting. These restrictions particularly affect college students because they are new to the process and more likely to move frequently. In addition, local election officials are sometimes hostile to the voting rights of college students, due to the misconception that students are not invested in the community and plan to leave upon graduation.
CVP offers resources and advice on working with election officials and college administrators to achieve specific goals that allow students to participate in our democracy. Another goal of CVP is to help colleges and universities use a variety of methods to educate students about registration and voting. When this information comes directly from a familiar source, students are more likely to pay attention and trust that the messages are accurate.
The Higher Education Act requires that colleges and universities widely distribute voter registration forms on campus and individually to all students physically in attendance. Many campuses can do more to fulfill this requirement, and CVP aims to help administrators incorporate civic engagement into campus life.
For our student voting guides, administrator best practices, campus toolkit to get students involved, and other information on student voting, visit www.CampusVoteProject.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
- Tennessee Student Voter ID Lawsuit Information – and other resources
- Student ID as Voter ID in 2016 – a map and analysis of where student IDs are listed as acceptable ID to vote
- College Students and Voting: A Campus Vote Project Perspective (2013)