NAICU Washington Update

Fall Includes Several Dates for Required and Voluntary Civic and Voter Participation Activities

September 10, 2021

There are several key dates coming up this fall that colleges and universities need to be aware of as it relates to civic engagement and participation.  The upcoming days are Constitution Day on September 17, and National Voter Registration Day on September 28.  Additionally, colleges in New Jersey and Virginia, which both have upcoming gubernatorial elections, have specific voter registration requirements they must meet related to those elections.  

Constitution Day

On September 17, colleges and universities receiving federal funds are required to annually conduct an educational program related to the signing of the U.S. Constitution, which took place on September 17, 1787. 

Congress did not define “educational program,” so campuses have a great deal of latitude as to how to observe the event. Additionally, 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 National Constitution Center list a number of resources for planning activities and recognizing Constitution Day. 

New Jersey and Virginia

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.  

New Jersey and Virginia will hold gubernatorial elections on Tuesday, November 2. Colleges and universities in both states are required to make a good faith effort to provide voter registration forms to students before the state voter registration deadlines. 

Colleges can meet the requirement by sending an email solely focused on voter registration and containing a link to the state voter registration website. 

Students may register to vote or request an absentee ballot at

National Voter Registration Day

National Voter Registration Day, a non-partisan civic holiday first launched in 2012, will be held on September 28. It provides another volunteer opportunity to initiate civic engagement and voter registration activities on campus. NAICU is a community partner with the National Voter Registration Day and encourages colleges and universities to find a way to support and provide voter registration activities that day.  This civic holiday was created to provide voter registration opportunities for students, faculty and the entire campus community. 

To date, 4.5 million people have registered to vote on National Voter Registration Day, including 1.5 million in 2020. 

MORE News from NAICU