Student activists launch the 2020 New Voters Project drive to organize their peers during an election impacted by COVID-19

The student-led MASSPIRGs’ New Voters Project is mobilizing young adults in a virtual world

Press Release

For Immediate Release-

For More Information:
Max Ciarlone, MASSPIRG Media Coordinator, 803-521-1218, [email protected]
Manny Rin, Student PIRGs New Voters Project Director, 925-234-1457, [email protected]

Boston, MA – On Wednesday student interns with MASSPIRG launched their 2020 New Voters Project campaign with a virtual peer-to-peer phonebank to help students across MA update their registration status and pledge to vote safely in the upcoming elections.

Dozens of student interns hit the phones today to make the first few hundred voter contacts of the drive, helping dozens of students update their registration using an online tool – studentvote.org – a “one-stop-shop” for youth voting information. With a statewide goal of registering 10,000 students in time for the November elections, this was the first event to make sure young people are heard this fall, in what is promising to be a very unique election experience.

“Voting is the most powerful way we can make our voices heard. The coronavirus pandemic has complicated the process, so we are building large, diverse coalitions on our college campuses to push for safe voting policies,” said Cristof Inderbitzin, Tufts University class of 2021 and MASSPIRG Summer Intern, “It’s important that we spend time this summer making sure college campuses are ready this fall.”

MASSPIRG, as part of the Rock the Vote’s Democracy Summer, has joined a national effort to recruit and train hundreds of fellow students to mobilize thousands of their peers to register to vote. This summer, more than 350 Student PIRGs New Voters Project interns are working with college campuses and state election officials across the United States to adopt safe voting policies, register students online, and educate students on how to cast their ballots in the general election in November. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped elections, universities, and other long-entrenched institutions across our country. With many colleges replacing in-person classes, at least in part, with online learning this fall, the effort to register and turn out new voters is shifting online. Young people, the nation’s largest and most diverse group of potential voters, have the opportunity to decide the upcoming election and many to come. These digital natives are also uniquely set up to use online communication — email, text, social media and more — to encourage their peers to take action. 

As part of the launch, MASSPIRG student volunteers joined a zoom meeting to kick off the day, hearing from political advocates, elected officials, and student leaders about the importance of raising the youth vote.

Many states are making provisions in the time of the pandemic that will make voting more accessible and safe for voters. MA state legislators in the senate and the house recently passed a COVID response bill that will, among other things, automatically mail out absentee-ballot applications to all registered voters in the state. The bill is currently undergoing final revisions before being sent to the Governor for his signature.  

We have an opportunity to engage every class of people online and with new policies like vote-by-mail, and that includes young people,” said Cheryl Crawford, Executive Director of MassVOTE, “Young people talking to each other to help their peers register, mobilize, and become educated about these options is so crucial to increasing youth voter turnout.

So far this summer, more than 300 student leaders in 15 states have been registering, educating and contacting other students about voting in state and local elections. Voting advocates have organized online events with secretaries of state, contacted more than 2,000 peers through phone and text messages, and worked with more than 200 college administrators to ensure that online registration tools, such as StudentVote.org, will help students on their campuses vote this year.  

“Right now, young people are fired up – and we’ve been at the forefront of social change movements for decades. We need to make sure our voices are heard on Election Day as well,” said Brendan Geraghty, Statewide Board Chair for MASSPIRG Students, and UMass Amherst class of 2021, “In an online world, young people are uniquely set up to organize others. It’s time we show the country that America’s largest generation votes!”

Follow MASSPIRG Students and Democracy Summer online and on social media for upcoming events, training webinars, and other campaign actions.

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Follow @MASSPIRG Students and #DemocracySummer2020 on twitter for updates

MASSPIRG Students is a statewide, student-funded and student-directed, nonpartisan group with chapters on college campuses. Combining student enthusiasm with professional staff and expertise, we run campaigns to protect the environment and public health, increase youth voter participation, and make textbooks more affordable.

The Student PIRGs voter registration and turnout effort is part of its New Voters Project campaign, one of the largest nonpartisan youth voter mobilization efforts in the country. 

The Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project has run peer-to-peer student voter mobilization drives to turn out the youth vote on college campuses for more than 30 years. Its philosophy is that the full participation of young people in the political process is essential to a truly representative, vibrant democracy. The New Voters Project does not endorse, either explicitly or implicitly, a political candidate or political party for elected office.