Voter Access Initiative

Faculty & Staff Election Resources

One of the most effective ways to inspire students to get engaged in the electoral process is to make sure they hear about it directly from a faculty or staff member. VAI and MICA Organizers & Activists (MOA) have partnered to provide you with a variety of ways to integrate non-partisan election content into your classroom or workspace.

Please be advised that this is a non-partisan effort and discussions with students should be framed in terms of the broader value of civic responsibility. When discussing voting with students, use the qualifier “if eligible” to acknowledge that not everyone is eligible to vote.

Download Faculty & Staff One-Pager - First edition / fall 2020
Download Faculty & Staff Post-election one-pager - Second Edition / Fall 2020

Guidelines for Discussion

See Additional Resources section below for helpful guides

  • You don’t need to be a political expert, know all the answers or have perfect responses.
  • Your role is to get students talking and thinking, not to lead them toward a particular political viewpoint.
  • When discussing where candidates stand on key issues be accurate and fair, whatever your personal views. Consider directing students to non-partisan candidate guides.
  • When talking about why voting matters, contextualize it as another method of civic participation, alongside attending a local protest or volunteering in your community. 
  • Be mindful of political cynicism, avoid “guilting” or dismissing the obstacles students may experience with voting.
  • Not all students may be eligible to vote in U.S. elections. Let students know that even if they aren't eligible, learning about voting and encouraging eligible friends to vote is just as impactful, and by living in the U.S., voting still affects you even if you aren't voting yourself.
  • You may supply information, context, and sources for further inquiry, but you are mainly providing an environment where all in the space are respected. Let the students take the lead as much as possible. 
  • Consider having a couple of students facilitate the conversation with you. 

Suggestions for the Classroom 

  • Syllabus: Add key dates to your course syllabus and include language about the importance of voting and civic participation. Key dates for fall 2021:
    • 9/17: Constitution Day
    • 9/28: National Voter Registration Day
    • 10/4-10/8: National Voter Education Week
    • 10/23: Vote Early Day
    • 11/1: Election Hero Day
  • Class Announcements: Make a class announcement about key dates (listed above), upcoming deadlines and/or democratic engagement opportunities on campus in the beginning of class each week. 
  • Presentations: Share a powerpoint or facilitate a discussion. Consider doing this on National Voter Registration Day (9/28).
  • MICA's Voter Website: Give students time during class to visit mica.edu/vote to make a plan to vote and sign up with TurboVote  to receive updates and reminders.
  • Democratic Engagement Canvas Module: Add MOA’s voting module to your course; share it with your students during class time or as an assignment. 
  • Scheduling: Make arrangements so that no major assignments are due on Election Day or the day after (there are no general or midterm elections this fall)
Additional Resources

Virtual Promotion

  • Email signature: Add a line to the bottom of you email signature with why you vote or encouraging others to vote (i.e. "Are you ready for November 3? Make a plan to vote." Link to mica.edu/vote). Select here for email signature graphics. 
  • Zoom: Add some flair to your Zoom presence by using a voter themed background
  • Key dates: Send communications on 3 key dates to your department, family/friends, community, etc. Direct folks to mica.edu/vote to make a plan to vote. Key dates:
    • 9/28: National Voter Registration Day
    • 10/4-10/8: National Voter Education Week
    • 10/23: Vote Early Day
  • Mobilize Colleagues: Organize your colleagues to register, make a plan, and vote! Encourage early voting.
  • Integrate Voting Into Your Role: MICA is full of creatives. Think outside the box about how you can incorporate elections or democracy into your role.

Hold spaces for dialogue and verbal expression.

Faculty, staff, and student leaders may end up facilitating difficult yet sensitive conversations with students after the election. While this is not an expectation, here are some resources to support constructive conversations around the elections, regardless of the outcomes.

  • Establish clear guidelines, boundaries and purpose setting to frame challenging discussions. Allow people to speak from their own point of view without making assumptions about others. Clearly communicate why it is necessary and why it impacts every class, student, etc., no matter personal options.
  • Have discussions with an equity lens that values each student's perspective.
  • Let students take the lead in the conversations and ensure that their voices are heard. Students don't need a lecture about elections or their feelings.
  • Be honest that this election is more than politics- it's about values, too. Prepare to navigate conversations outside of simply a “political” framework.
  • Keep the conversations nonpartisan, while still providing students a chance to exchange ideas, perspectives, and experiences.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Understand the international context

  • Not all students outside of the U.S. are interested in or well-informed about U.S. politics.
  • Students from other countries learn about the US from their own press. Be sensitive to U.S. allegations that other countries are interfering with the US election. Most students tend to be patriotic and can take criticism of their home country's government personally.
  • Educate yourself about the issues that pertain to international students. If Trump is reelected, student visas will change including the length of stay and the ability to work after graduation (OPT).
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

MICA Employee Voting Policy

Updated Aug. 2020: VAI worked to create a more flexible voting policy

MICA encourages eligible employees to exercise your constitutional right to vote in all federal, state, and local elections. You may take up to three hours* paid time off to vote including voting on Election Day, voting early in-person, and voting by mail or absentee ballot. If you are going to take time off to vote, notify your supervisor ahead of time.  This policy applies to all employees (full-time and part-time) except students employed in positions that require student status as a condition of employment.

*With the approval of your supervisor, more time may be taken off if needed. MICA recognizes that the time it takes to vote has always been unpredictable, and this year will be even more uncertain due to social distancing requirements at polling places, changes to polling locations, and unfamiliarity with dropbox locations.