NAICU Washington Update

House-Passed Election Law Could Have Implications for Higher Ed

March 05, 2021

Late Wednesday night, the House of Representatives passed the For the People Act, a sweeping voting rights bill that addresses voter access, election integrity and security, campaign finance, and ethics for the three branches of government. 

If the bill is passed by the Senate and signed into law by President Biden, it will broaden election year responsibilities for colleges and universities well beyond the current good faith efforts, established in the Higher Education Act, to distribute voter registration forms.

In the bill, colleges and universities are designated as Voter Registration Agencies under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. Each institution of higher education that participates in the Title IV student aid programs will have to comply. 

Below is a summary of the key new requirements colleges and universities would have to comply with if the bill becomes law (more detail can be found on page 218 of the Act):
  • Designate a Campus Vote Coordinator and post that office or person’s contact information on the school’s website.
  • At least twice a year:
    • Transmit electronically to each student enrolled in person or online a message containing information for the location of the polling place in which the institution is located; along with transportation options to and from the polls.
    • Refer students to a government-affiliated website or online platform that provides voter registration information for each state.
  • The Campus Vote Coordinator must also transmit voter registration information no later than 30 days prior to the deadline for registering to vote for any election for federal, state, or local office in their state.
  • The bill also establishes a competitive grant program for colleges and universities who wish to further enhance their voter activities on campus. 
The bill passed along mostly party lines with 220 votes in favor and 210 against. The next step is for the bill to be considered in the Senate, where the prospects of passage are not clear. The legislation would have to garner 60 votes to pass. 

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