Earlier this year, President Biden signed an executive order to expand access to voter registration and election information ahead of the midterm elections this fall.
"The right to vote is the foundation of American democracy," the order states. "But many Americans, especially people of color, confront significant obstacles to exercising that fundamental right. These obstacles include difficulties with voter registration, lack of election information, and barriers to access at polling places."
As part of this effort, the U.S. Education Department issued a Dear Colleague Letter reminding colleges and universities of their legal requirement to distribute voter registration materials and provide voter education.
Institutions must make a good faith effort to distribute voter registration forms and make such forms widely available to students in attendance during years when there are elections for federal office, governor, or other chief executives within the state, as required by the 1998 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. More recent legislation, enacted in 2008, allows such outreach through electronic messages as long as the message is devoted exclusively to voter registration and contains an acceptable voter registration form or an internet address where that form can be downloaded.
With elections happening in every state this November, the department encouraged campuses to make preparations to fulfill this requirement, including consideration of voter registration deadlines to ensure compliance.
AACRAO updated its list of voter registration deadline information to assist campuses in distributing voter registration forms to all students. The list includes state voter registration deadlines, State Elections Division contact information, links to online state registration forms, and deadlines for institutions to request and distribute mail-in registration forms.
White House Executive Order
U.S. Education Department Dear Colleague Letter