Takeaways from the National Campaign Conference

By Sarah Murphy '20 | February 11, 2019

Ed Markey, Sarah, and Hayley (Photo credit: Dyan Ciccone)

Fellow Kevin B. Harrington Student Ambassador Hayley Morgan '20 and I had the privilege of representing Saint Anselm College and the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at the Harvard National Campaign Conference this past weekend at the Harvard Kennedy School.

The standout events of the weekend were the town hall discussion with John Della Volpe, director of Polling at the Harvard Kennedy School and the Votes and Ballots game through Democracy Works.

During the town hall discussion, Della Volpe asked attendees about the happenings of their campuses and what they believed to be the main issues of America today. It was a fast-paced session that introduced a presentation by Nancy Thomas on Sustaining Student Interest During and Beyond Elections (NSLVE) and other breakout sessions.

We were most inspired by our fellow attendees Dylan Stafford and Devshi Mehrotra from the University of Chicago. They have done a great job implementing TurboVote on their campus. They also shared with us their idea to use coffee cup sleeves in campus cafes as a way of displaying information on how to register to vote and the dates of local elections in Chicago. We hope to collaborate with them on ideas going forward.

During the Votes and Ballots game, attendees were challenged to develop a comprehensive plan to bring back to their colleges and universities. Using the NSLVE results, students examined their own campus reports for student voting rates.

The first step of the “game” was to create an action plan. The sections of the action plan included: executive summary, leadership, commitment, landscape, goals, reporting, evaluation, and strategy.

Our action plan is to communicate our strategy for increasing both the registration and turnout rates of voters at Saint Anselm College. The planned activities we outlined will be carried out over the next two years on and around our campus in Manchester, New Hampshire. This plan will be implemented by the students of Saint Anselm College recruited by different organizations on campus in order to accomplish our goals and further institutionalize Saint Anselm’s commitment to civic learning, democratic engagement, and youth participation in elections.

We plan to bring organizations like the Kevin B. Harrington Student Ambassador Program, the Student Government Association, athletic teams, and other clubs on campus into this process. Hayley and I will be seeking the assistance and support of many leaders around campus for our nonpartisan mission of increasing our voter registration and turnout rates. We hope to organize a coalition of students and administrators to further discuss our goals and plans.