Civic Engagement Beyond Voting
Non-citizens & those ineligible to vote in federal elections can still play an important role in electoral politics! Below are some ways to get involved.
But First: Did you know non-citizens can vote in some local elections? In Chicago, for example, any resident can vote for their Local School Council (LSC), and some wards (including Ward 49, Rogers Park) use a participatory budgeting process that any resident can take part in to determine how a portion of your tax dollars are spent.
- Many departments and student organizations bring political leaders to campus, sponsor debates and discussions, and organize actions. Stay tuned to the NU Votes website for upcoming events, check out PlanIt Purple for department offerings, or search for student organizations on Wildcat Connection by the Political category.
- Websites like FiveThirtyEight run a constantly-updating Election Forecast. RealClear Politics is a way to stay tuned to political perspectives from both sides of the aisle. You can learn more about the candidates on the ballot at BallotReady. And the independent site Politifact fact-checks officials’ statements and tracks campaign promises.
Help Build a Voting Culture
One of the most significant influences on voting behavior is the perception of community norms. Help build a voting culture at Northwestern to ensure that those who do have the right to vote exercise it.
- Talk about the election with people in your network. Let them know how policy decisions affect you and why you’re invested in electoral politics. Help eligible voters make a voting plan, and send them reminders to make sure they follow through.
- Plan a virtual watch party for your friends, family or student group to watch the Presidential debates or election night coverage together.
- Share NU Votes content on social media, use a virtual background with a voting theme on Zoom, and add a voting reminder to your email signature.
- Do you teach or mentor college students? Take a look at our Resources for Faculty for ideas on how to incorporate voter education and outreach into your courses.
Support a Candidate, Party, or Political Organization
- Volunteer with a local candidate, campaign, political party, or issue organization. Contacting voters via phone and text and sending postcards with voting reminders can all be done remotely.
- Donate to or fundraise for a candidate, party, or cause you believe in. You can even create fundraisers for nonprofits through Facebook.
- Sign petitions, join a march, or call and email local, state, and national elected officials. They represent all their constituents, not just voters. Through IssueVoter, you can receive targeted alerts on Congressional legislation related to your interests and send your opinion directly to your representatives.
- Attend public meetings to see your local officials in action and voice your ideas. In Evanston and Chicago, for example, you can provide comments in person or submit them in writing.
- Passionate about getting young people to vote? Support non-partisan organizations like Campus Vote Project, Rock the Vote, or When We All Vote, that work to increase access to the democratic process for students and young people.
Want to learn more about civic engagement opportunities on campus and in the community? Check out the programs and services offered by the Center for Civic Engagement or subscribe to the Center’s Weekly Digest or Grad Student Bulletin.