Project: Harvard Votes Challenge: Building a University-Wide Civic Culture
Team: Teresa Acuña, Rob Watson, Kelsey Donohue, Daniel Harsha
School/Units Represented: HKS
We endeavor to transform Harvard University into a national leader of civic engagement by increasing voter registration and participation rates.*
The primary target audience of this campaign are students. As a culture of voting is built, the Harvard University community at-large will benefit from elevated awareness of elections; staff and faculty are secondary audiences.
By building a university-wide campaign focused on student voter engagement, we have the opportunity to work across schools to empower voters under the age of 44, specifically 18-29 and 30-44 age groups, who have historically been underrepresented in voter turnout. By supporting and reinforcing good civic habits among students, we can help them make their voice heard in our democracy and become lifelong voters. Our country and its democracy thrive when more people participate in this process.
We are building the infrastructure to meet President Lawrence S. Bacow’s call to action at Harvard’s First-year Student Convocation, “Your first homework assignment...if you are eligible to vote, we expect you to register, to inform yourself of the candidates and issues, and to cast a ballot.”
*These efforts align with the 1998 Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965 that requires institutions of higher education to engage in voter registration activities during years when there are elections for federal office, governor or other chief executives within the state [HEA Section 487(a)(23)].