Campus Election Engagement Project wants to educate young voters

I Voted Stickers. Photo courtesy of Element5 Digital, Unsplash.com

Ahead of the upcoming election on Nov. 3, and amidst a global pandemic causing widespread college campus closures throughout the country, Campus Election Engagement Project (CEEP) introduced a series of nonpartisan national and state-specific candidate guides to help students and other young voters navigate issues and elections that matter to them.

These resources include a 2020 Presidential Candidate Guide, a Supreme Court and the 2020 Election Guide, and distribution guidelines to encourage the sharing of this information across campus. These guides are free and also may be used by media outlets to inform off-campus voters.

When it comes to college students in particular, CEEP has found that they often don’t vote because they don’t know where candidates stand on key issues, or because they mistrust politics in general.

In a classroom of university students where half had not voted in the most recent election, a student told CEEP founder Paul Loeb, “All the ads, all the lies, you can’t believe that the candidates say, and I don’t want to vote for the wrong person. If only I had a list where I could see what they actually stood for.” 

In response, CEEP created its nonpartisan candidate guides to address this skepticism, to help students sort through contending candidate claims, and to move students past the reflex response that “all politicians are the same.” Students say these guides give them more confidence in their understanding of candidates and increase their likelihood of turning out at the polls.

“CEEP’s Presidential Guides are such a great resource for students looking to know the candidates’ policy positions, but not necessarily looking to put in the hours of work that usually requires,” said Lauren Ban, CEEP Assistant Director for Pennsylvania. “I always recommend them to our fellows for a quick and easy way to discuss the candidates and their various positions.”

CEEP’s candidate guides are created by a team of veteran journalists and researchers, who have worked for such publications as the Los Angeles Times, Time, Business Week, AP, and Encyclopedia Britannica, who go beyond candidate website statements to document voting records and public statements, making the guides an antidote to political spin.

Because individuals who vote when they’re young tend to continue, these resources help schools deepen their electoral engagement each cycle, understand the issues at stake in our democracy, and generate both immediate and long-term impact on voter turnout. Guides can be found at guides.vote.

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