North Carolina college students virtually engage their peers on National Voter Registration Day

Organizers reach out to hundreds of thousands of potential voters in massive registration push

Press Release

-For Immediate Release-

For More Information:
Katie Craig, NCPIRG Students Organizing Director ,919-239-3500, [email protected] 
Manny Rin, Student PIRGs New Voters Project Director, 925-234-1457, [email protected]
Hannah Varnell, NCPIRG Student Media Intern, 336-601-1378, [email protected]

Raleigh, NC  COVID-19 has reshaped 2020’s election landscape, but that hasn’t stopped the NCPIRG Students New Voters Project from extensive outreach on Tuesday’s National Voter Registration Day. The student-led effort on nine North Carolina campuses to take tried-and-tested campaign tactics and adapt them to reach students in an online world. The eight campuses participating were: UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC Charlotte, UNC Pembroke, NC State, App State, Durham Technical Community College, Forsyth Tech Community College, Davidson Community College, and Guilford Technical Community College.

Specifically, traditional actions such as phone banking and clipboarding have gone virtual to reach students on college campuses that are now online. Yesterday, students were focused on using personalized tactics to help the peers register to vote online, such as making class announcements, posting on Instagram and DM’ing their followers to take action. Student organizers also created a voter registration outreach competition to get volunteers and interns to engage with as many of their peers as possible through calling and texting. In total, their effort reached more than 12,000 students across the state on this national day of action dedicated to voting.

“Voting is the most powerful way we can make our voices heard,” said NCPIRG Student Intern, Hannah Varnell, a senior at UNC Charlotte. “We do most things online so being able to register to vote online is a gamechanger. National Voter Registration Day is just the first step in our effort to turn out students this November.”

NCPIRG Students partnered with campus officials, faculty and other student groups to reach every student on campus. On National Voter Registration Day, they engaged thousands of students by virtual means through campus emails and social media pages that shared voting information posts In addition, they held a variety of virtual events to engage students. 

For example, at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, the campus vote coalition worked with campus housing to text every student living on campus. The effort delivered a text message to every freshman, helping them register for the first time. In addition, organizers worked with the school newspaper to cover important voting information, and held numerous events, including a Tik Tok challenge, a workshop with the library, and more. All told, nearly all of the 7,000 students on campus received at least one — and in many cases multiple — reminders to register. 

The day culminated in a massive ”Reg and Pledge Outreach Competition,” a competition between over 50 student leaders from the eight participating campuses across the state. The event featured volunteers calling friends, texting classmates, and taking a variety of other actions to see who could do the most outreach to help fellow students safely register and pledge to vote. 

“It was amazing to see so many different groups of students come together to achieve the common goal of registering each other to vote.” said Devin Green, an intern with NCPIRG and first year at UNCP.

Looking to build on these results, NCPIRG Students will keep working to increase voter participation from students around the state before the registration deadline on Oct. 9. Students are already making additional plans to make sure classmates are registered and have everything they need to cast their vote this fall. Expected efforts include more statewide events, more vote reminders being circulated, and more competitions between volunteers to keep them engaged in this work.

The Student PIRGs  voter registration and turnout effort is part of its New Voters Project campaign, one of the largest nonpartisan youth voter mobilization efforts in the country. The Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project has run peer-to-peer student voter mobilization drives to turn out the youth vote on college campuses for more than 30 years. Its philosophy is that the full participation of young people in the political process is essential to a truly representative, vibrant democracy. The New Voters Project does not endorse, either explicitly or implicitly, a political candidate or political party for elected office.
Founded in 2012, National Voter Registration Day is designed to create an annual moment when the entire nation focuses on registering Americans to exercise their most basic right—the right to vote. Nearly 3 million Americans have registered to vote on the holiday since the inaugural National Voter Registration Day in 2012.