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JumboVote Drove Tufts Student Voting in the 2018 Midterms

Monday, December 10, 2018

Tufts' student-led initiative to promote electoral engagement had an extraordinary impact in this election cycle.

JumboVote helping students register to vote

JumboVote, Tufts’ university-wide initiative to support, promote, and facilitate voting and political learning on campus, experienced incredible success in the 2018 election cycle, helping more than 1,000 students with their voter registration and contributing to record-breaking political participation by young people at Tufts and across the country.

The initiative was founded in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election and is led largely by students with leadership and support from Tisch College. This fall in an election year when youth were especially politically active and, according to Tisch College’s own research, had a historically high voter turnout rate, JumboVote played a central role in channeling and amplifying that politically energy throughout the university.

“JumboVote experienced a great amount of success this year due to our volunteers’ tireless presence on campus and their ability to make voting accessible and exciting, which can be difficult when voting represents an intimidating and confusing process for many of their peers,” said Peter de Guzman, the Student Outreach Coordinator at Tisch College who oversaw JumboVote.

Here’s a look at some of JumboVote’s 2018 activities and achievements:

  • JumboVote helped 1,147 members of the Tufts community use the Tufts Turbovote platform to register to vote. That number easily eclipsed the 1,055 people JumboVote helped register in 2016—an extraordinary feat, given that voting is usually significantly higher in presidential elections.
  • More than 70 students and staff from across the Tufts community, and on all Tufts campuses, engaged with JumboVote’s work. The student-led nature of JumboVote is one of its essential components, because students are most effective at reaching and motivating their peers. To that end, JumboVote worked with more than 25 different student groups to spread awareness about voting resources available to members of the Tufts community.
  • JumboVote volunteers “tabled” for approximately 40 days across all Tufts’ campuses. At JumboVote tables, students could register to vote or check their registration status, request absentee ballots, find out their polling location, and ask any questions about the voting process.
  • JumboVote organized or co-sponsored more than 30 events at Tufts this fall. These included food truck fairs, fundraisers, poll monitor trainings, issue forums, informal gatherings at dorms (with smoothies!), and an election-night watch party that drew more than 100 students to the Tufts campus center.
  • JumboVote volunteers drove more than 70 students to vote on Election Day, some to far-away polling locations that would have proven inconvenient or inaccessible to students without transportation.

While we won’t know the exact voting and registration rates of Tufts students for several months, when the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE), conducted by Tisch College’s Institute for Democracy & Higher Education releases that data, all signs point to the fact that JumboVote’s efforts significantly increased student voting. At the Gantcher Center polling station on campus (Ward 4-1), there was a 36% increase in ballots cast, compared to 2014. At the South Medford Fire Station (Ward 8-1) which also serves a polling location for many students, voting increased by 24%.

“It’s important to have initiatives like JumboVote because peer-to-peer outreach has the potential to make a major impact on whether or not students vote. If students from different groups, backgrounds, and experiences are all talking about voting, it will encourage and remind others to get involved,” said JumboVote volunteer Laurel Bliss, A20. “I think JumboVote did a great job of partnering with other groups and working within dorms and other highly trafficked areas to attract students who may otherwise have lacked the information about voting that they needed.”

The success of JumboVote, and its impact on the university, was also recognized beyond campus. Last month, Tufts was named by Washington Monthly as one of "2018’s Best Colleges For Student Voting” In addition, JumboVote’s efforts were featured in an Christian Science Monitor article titled “Watch out, 2020: Young voters are on the rise.”

“We are excited by our recent success and we intend on bringing even more people into our broad and inclusive coalition in order to build capacity and assist an even greater number of voters in the 2020 presidential election,” said Peter de Guzman. “We believe voter interest will be even higher in 2020 than in the 2018 midterm elections, and we want to be ready to meet that need.”