Voter Engagement Newsletter

October 16, 2020


Hello everyone! With election season fully underway, we have created this special edition Voter Engagement Newsletter to provide you with resources that can help you register and make a plan to vote, better understand the issues and candidates on your ballot, and learn how you can participate in election-themed events here at CMU. Whether you are a first-time voter, a long-time political activist, or even if you are not eligible to vote in US elections, we encourage you to check out the below resources and use them to help prepare you for everything elections-related in the coming weeks.
Scotty Dog with #CMUvotes Pin

Register to Vote RIGHT NOW!

Register to Vote RIGHT NOW!

Don't worry if you have not yet registered to vote this year - there is still time! The voter registration deadline in Pennsylvania is October 19th at 11:59pm. This year we are partnering with TurboVote to help people register to vote. TurboVote is a platform that makes it easy to register to vote and request absentee ballots, no matter where you are located. Signing up with TurboVote is quick, easy and free, and over 500 people at CMU have already registered using TurboVote! If you are eligible to vote in the election, we strongly encourage you to register and learn about the candidates and issues that will be on your ballot. So what are you waiting for? Click here to register with TurboVote.

Make a Plan!

You are more likely to vote if you make a plan to do it. You want to think through how you're going to vote, which could be voting by mail, early voting, or voting in person on Election Day, depending on what options are available in your state, .

Voting by Mail

Each state determines their vote by mail laws and requirements. Broadly, states' vote by mail eligibility will fall into one of three categories: excuse required, no excuse required, or universal (where everyone automatically receives a mail ballot). Voting laws are constantly being updated, so make sure you have the most up-to-date information, and learn about the absentee ballot rules in your state. Learn more here.

  • Excuse: Voters in these states will need to provide a valid excuse for not voting on Election Day in order to vote by mail.
  • No excuse: Any voter in these states can vote by mail if they choose to, even if they are able to vote in person on Election Day.
  • Universal: Voters in these states only need to request a mail ballot if they need their ballot mailed to a different address than where they're registered to vote; otherwise they'll get one immediately.

If you have chosen to vote by mail in Pennsylvania, please be aware that an imaging error by the Midwest District resulted in incorrect ballots being sent to almost 30,000 people in Allegheny County. Voters who received incorrect ballots will receive a new and correct ballot in the mail, expected to arrive the week of October 19. To find out if your ballot was affected by this error, search for your name using the Allegheny County Elections Division's look-up tool. To learn more about this, check out the Elections Division website and their related press release.

Voting In Person

The CMU administration is making it easier for community members to vote and volunteer this year by offering maximum flexibility to students, faculty, and staff on Election Day. Provost Garrett sent an email to the campus community on October 15 outlining expectations for maximum flexibility and how this can help you participate on Election Day this year. Click here to read the contents of that email and learn more about maximum flexibility.

Know Your Deadlines & Polling Place

Key Deadlines for this Election:

October 19th at 11:59pm: Deadline to register to vote in PA or update your voter registration

October 27th at 5:00pm:

  • Deadline to sign up to vote by mail ballot in PA (mail-in or absentee ballot)
  • Deadline to vote early in-person in PA

November 3rd: Election Day

  • Polls in PA are open from 7:00am to 8:00pm
  • Last day to return your mail ballot
  • If returning your ballot by mail, your mail ballot must be postmarked by 8:00pm on Election Day and received by your county's election office by 5:00pm on November 6 to be counted
  • If returning your mail ballot in person, you must return the mail ballot to your county's election office or other designated location by 8:00pm on Election Day

For more information about voting deadlines in Pennsylvania, check out the Voting in Pennsylvania webpage.

For more information about voting deadlines in other states, sign up for TurboVote or check out

To learn where your polling place is located, check out the Polling Place Locator. Please make sure to check your polling place prior to election day - even if you live on campus, your polling place may be elsewhere.

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Get To Know Your Ballot

Your Sample Ballot

View your sample ballot here. Ballotpedia connects people with politics by changing the way they access the information they need to be informed about federal, state, and local politics. Their content includes neutral, accurate, and verifiable information on government officials and the offices they hold, political issues and public policy, elections, candidates, and the influencers of politics.

Learn More About Your Candidates

People often don't vote because they don't know where candidates stand and are confused about how to find out. In response, the Campus Election Engagement Project creates nonpartisan, state-specific guides to help navigate key positions. They research salient voting records and what candidates say to different groups, not just what they say on their websites, so the guides are an antidote to political spin. Learn more about your national and local candidates here.

Should I Bring My ID Card?

Every state has different voter ID rules. Vote Riders provides voter ID assistance so that every American can cast a ballot that counts. Visit's voter ID guide shares the latest information about what's required for voting in person or by mail.

Practice healthy behaviors to protect yourself.

Practice healthy behaviors to protect yourself and slow the spread of COVID-19.

  • Wash your hands before entering and after leaving the polling location.
  • While in the polling location, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol frequently, especially after touching surfaces frequently touched by multiple people, such as door handles or voting machines.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues in lined trash cans. Wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Wear a mask. Children under 2 and anyone who has trouble breathing, is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance should not wear a mask.
  • Maintain at least 6 feet (under 2 arms' length) of distance from others. It is important to continue social distancing even when you and others are wearing masks.

Consider voting alternatives available in your jurisdiction that minimize contact.

Voting alternatives that limit the number of people you come in contact with or the amount of time you are in contact with others can help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Check your local election office website for more information on voting alternatives available in your jurisdiction.

Do not disinfect or wipe down the voting equipment yourself.

Electronic voting equipment can be damaged by cleaners and disinfectants. If you use hand sanitizer before touching the voting equipment, ensure your hands are completely dry to avoid damaging the equipment. Wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer after using the voting equipment.

Avoid crowds.

  • Use early voting, if available in your jurisdiction.
  • Vote at off-peak times, such as mid-morning.
  • If driving to the polls and your schedule allows, monitor the voter line from your car and join it when it's shorter.

Be prepared.

  • Check your voting location and requirements in advance because they may have changed due to COVID-19.
  • Verify your voter registration information is correct in advance of reporting to the polling location.
  • Contact your local or state election office for additional information for voters with disabilities.
  • Make sure you have all necessary documents to avoid delays at the polling location.
  • If possible, complete any registration forms prior to arriving at the polling location.
  • Where possible, review or complete a sample ballot t home to speed the process of casting your ballot at the polling location.
  • Bring your own black ink pen.
  • Bring a stylus or similar object for use with touchscreen voting machines. Check with poll workers before using.

Get Involved

Engage Your Friends In Conversation

The Voter Engagement Discussion Guide is intended for faculty, coaches, student club/organization leaders, student ministries, resident assistants, and anybody else who wants to engage students in critical conversation on voting and civil discourse. In the guide you will find 11 unique discussion topics categorized into four themes: Voter Engagement, Civil Discourse, State of The Political Climate, and Exploring Challenging Perspectives. You do not need to be an expert to lead a voter engagement discussion. All that is required is a little preparation and a group of students.

Take the ALL IN TO VOTE Pledge

Accountability is key. Make a plan to vote and stick to it! Studies show that you're more likely to complete an action if you've made a public commitment to it. Take the pledge.
CMU Votes

Follow CMU Votes

CMU Votes is a coalition of student organizations dedicated to organizing civic engagement events and conversations at CMU. Join them for presidential debate watch parties and information on voting! Follow them @cmuvotes on Instagram and Twitter and visit their Facebook page.

Visit the SLICE Voter Resources Webpage

The Office of Student Leadership, Involvement, and Civic Engagement is committed to empowering students to meaningfully engage in civic discourse. We recognize that voting is an important step to be civically involved with your community and as such, we aim to provide you with the necessary voter registration tools so you can be ready to cast your ballot and engage in this cornerstone of our democracy. Learn more by visiting the SLICE Voter Resources webpage. You will also find voter engagement resources for students, staff, faculty, and coaches.

Voting Power Hour

Join The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge for an hour of great beats and fun LIVE entertainment, all while texting your friends and family to make sure they have a plan to vote. Sign up for one, some, or all of the Voting Power Hours! Register here.