NAICU Washington Update

Voter Registration Deadlines and Constitution Day are Around the Corner

August 27, 2020

Since the reauthorization the Higher Education Act in 1998, postsecondary institutions have been required to make a good-faith effort to distribute voter registration forms to students prior to the registration deadlines for presidential and gubernatorial elections.  

In an effort to help campuses meet this requirement and to promote civic engagement, NAICU launched its biennial Your Vote, Your Voice national campus voter registration project this week by co-hosting a virtual event with Kevin Kruger, President and CEO of NASPA, highlighting the best practices for campus-based civic engagement and voter registration activities in the midst of the coronavirus.

The event, which also featured Jeff Docking, president of Adrian College, and Fayneese Miller, president of Hamline University, provided examples of successful voter registration activities and practical insights on engaging students in public policy discussions on campus or in a virtual environment.

The launch event also served as a precursor to National Voter Registration Day, a non-partisan civic holiday held on September 22.  NAICU is a community partner of National Voter Registration Day and encourages its membership to find ways to support campus voter registration initiatives.  The National Voter Registration Day website features a toolkit to help organize activities related to voter registration.

In addition to the voter registration requirement, colleges and universities that receive federal funds are required to conduct an annual educational program related to the signing of the U.S. Constitution.  Activities are to be conducted on Constitution Day, celebrated on September 17.

Congress did not define “educational program,” so campuses have a great deal of latitude as to how to observe the event. The regulations do not indicate any penalties for failure to comply with the mandate, nor do they indicate that specific activities need to be reported.

The Library of Congress and the Constitution Center list a number of resources for planning activities and recognizing Constitution Day. 

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