By Emily Giffin
The workday was nearing its end one afternoon in December 2017, and my colleague Sara and I were having a strategy session around how to best support TurboVote partners during the 2018 midterm election season. Sara and I make up the support team for TurboVote’s higher education program, providing best practices and implementation guidance to our 100+ campus partners across the country. And though I remember it being quite dark outside (thanks, winter!), we weren’t ready to call it a day. We knew we hadn’t found our big idea just yet.
Our aim was to come up with a way to breathe new life into our usual means of partner support: exchanging plenty of emails, strategizing over the phone or via video conference, hosting webinars, presenting at conferences, etc. We wanted to keep doing what works—what our partners expect from us—but with a more creative approach that would motivate and unite our community of TurboVote institutions. Pursuing that notion, we wondered if a campaign or rallying cry might be the answer.
I walked over to the whiteboard and wrote two column headers: “Students” and “Voting.” Leaning into the safety that comes with a no-bad-ideas brainstorm, we just started listing words associated with being a student and did the same for voting. Soon, we stepped back and pondered the list we had created.
“Class” … “Homework” … “Elections” … “Ballot” … “Exams” …
Fueled by coffee and a proclivity for puns, we finally spotted it. Students take midterm exams, students want to ace their midterms, we vote in midterm elections… What about Ace the Midterms? Fast forward past seeking validation from our coworkers who assured us Ace the Midterms not only made sense but was also cool (bonus!), we arrive here:
Ace the Midterms is our campaign to achieve 100,000 TurboVote signups across all of our higher education partners in 2018. Each quarter of the year, our means of support will take on a different theme, starting in the most natural place: setting a goal.
Right now, we’re encouraging student voter engagement teams across our campuses to set a TurboVote signup goal and share how they will contribute toward our community-wide aim of 100,000 signups. Owing to longstanding partnerships and studies like NSLVE, TurboVote implementers are looking back at data from 2014/2016 and raising the bar, drafting goals like signing up 1,000 students for TurboVote this election season and increasing midterm voting rates by five percentage points.
Next, we’ll turn our focus toward making a plan and helping campuses put best practices on paper for how they will help students vote during the primaries and into the fall. Some campuses have already done it! Check out these action plans for inspiration, courtesy of ALL IN + TurboVote campuses CCAC and Kennesaw State. No doubt, we’ll blink and it will be back-to-school season followed by my personal favorite holiday, National Voter Registration Day. In the run-up to the election, Sara and I will keep pace with the civic engagement heroes on the ground empowering youth voters, supporting implementers however we can in order to turn plans into action and get out the vote.
It’s such an exciting time in our democracy, and I feel lucky to be a part of it. I believe so strongly in this incredible community of TurboVote campuses because—puns, or no puns—higher education is changing the way we invite young voters into the democratic process.
But, let’s be honest… Puns make everything better, so let’s #AceTheMidterms together.