Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Registering to Vote: Common Campaign Final Portfolio

Registering to Vote: Common Campaign Final Portfolio
Haley Bydalek, Leila Tatby, Macy Kaufman, Elliot Janssen

Rhetorical Situation and Analysis:
  1. Exigence
    1. This imperfection marked by urgency is the idea that those within the millennial generation do not care about their present, future, or political candidates.
    2. According to the Campus Vote Project in 2014, adults between the ages of 18 through 29 made up 21% of those who were eligible to vote. With this, only 17% of 18 to 24 year olds cast a ballot in the 2014 elections.
    3. In everyday life and especially in college, we are faced with situations that question our views on controversial topics. We are asking to write about these views, speak about these views, have campaigns over these views, and even base our friends off these views. With this, depending on your political views, these topics can either be swept to the side or favored. Without taking advantage of our right to vote, we are not sticking up for our rights.
  2. Audience
    1. University of Nebraska-Lincoln college students of all ages, which is a sizeable group. The certain audience we are trying to reach is students that are not yet registered to vote. These students will come from different backgrounds, organizations, and faiths.
    2. With this group, what we have in common is the fact that we are also current UNL students. This advantage provides both a professional and personal viewpoint that while we are working to achieve an education and get a job after college; we are still trying to make the best of our young adult years.
  3. Fitting Response
    1. With the fitting response be filtered to an audience of distracted college students, we focused on going out and delivering the answer to the problem. We went around to local places on campus with our laptops and gave students the convenient chance to vote online in the very place they were sitting. Rather than them leaving and going to the DMV to register, the option was right in front of them.
    2. To get students more excited about registering to vote, we decided to take it a step further with social media picture filters. With a common theme in social media filters on places such as Facebook and Snapchat, we thought this would be a good approach. After students registered, we put a “I registered to vote” filter on a picture we took of them and encouraged them to share it to others.
  4. Constraints/Affordances
    1. The factor that will shape a rhetorical response to our Commons Campaign is the idea of convenience and furthering the opportunity to exercise your rights. With bringing the computer and ability to vote right to the student, it eliminates factors such as “being too busy” and “not knowing how to register”. For those that do not know where they stand with their political parties and views, we also provided an additional website option to take and find out which political party that stood with more.
    2. We are making sure to let students know that registering to vote is worth their time, as it is something that will affect them personally for the rest of their life.

What We Did:
Our first step for our campaign was to divide the labor, figure out a timeline, and start contacting potential clubs or organizations to see if we could come and speak about getting their students to register. Initially, we sent out a scripted email to several organizations, including Career Services, Young Americans for Liberty, University League of Leadership, Stewardship, and Scholarship, Huskers for Social Democracy, College Republicans and Students for Civic Reform. Here is a copy of what we sent each of their representatives:

Email Subject:
Registering to Vote Student Campaign

Email Script:

Hi (XXX),

I am participating in a project for my Rhetoric Media and Civic Life class which involves doing a commons campaign on campus to get UNL students involved with registering to vote. I was just wondering if you guys would be willing to get involved with us or have any suggestions!

With this, I would more than appreciate it if you passed the word along to others about this campaign. We have created picture filters that can be shared on social media for anyone that has registered to vote. Here is our general script:

Your vote matters, and being informed about our presidential candidates matters too! If you are interested in registering to vote, please visit this website if you are a Nebraska resident:
If you are not a Nebraska Resident, visit: to get registered.
ALSO, if you are unsure of who to vote for, see who you side with here:
After you have registered to vote, please feel free to email a picture of you registering along with your name, major, and grade. Thank you!

Thank you for your help and feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions or would like to partner up!



Unfortunately, we did not receive any responses from these clubs so we had to start on our plan b. We started out by meeting after each Thursday class, starting on March 31st,  going to the Union for 30 minutes. Our first encounter at the Union was a little uncomfortable as we approached students, but we became more comfortable with approaching students the more we went. We broke off into two groups and took different sections of the Union. We also went to the library on several of the days we did this. We spent our time personally approaching the students, usually one or a group of people studying, and asked them a few questions such as if they had considered voting in this election and then by asking them if they’d like to sign up to register to vote if they weren’t already. We preferred to reach out to students in groups because we didn’t feel quite as intrusive on their studying. We each had our laptops already with us and with the website pulled up so it was not a problem for them to quickly put their information in and use our computers to save them time. If we wouldn’t have had the website already pulled up and ready for access, our success rate would not have been as high.

We also reached out to our sororities and clubs we were a part of on campus to get the members in these organizations involved to register to vote. This wasn’t as difficult of a task because we personally knew everyone so the initial meeting stage was gone. We went to our sorority’s “study hours” and got members who were studying their to sign up. We went to study hours one night at each sorority. We had our laptops with us with the website pulled up so it was easy for them to quickly register and get back to studying. This tactic provided a little more immediate satisfaction because it’s not as hard to convince a friend why they should register to vote as opposed to a complete stranger.

We also took on a slightly different approach that what we had originally put in our proposal. We posted in some of the Facebook groups Group-Me’s chats we were a part of. We simply posted the link to register to vote and asked them to register to vote if they hadn’t already, along with a short explanation on how quick and easy the sign-up process was. This tactic ended up working really well for us because we weren’t physically bothering them when they would maybe be in the middle of doing something. We felt less intrusive and everyone generally responded pretty well to the encouragement to register to vote. Honestly, we probably reached more people more quickly by posting to social media than from personal face-to-face interaction.

The way we went about approaching students was a really great idea. Instead of just having a booth set up at the union or the library, we personally approached students and started a conversation with them, then asked them to sign up to vote or if they already were signed up, told them about to get them informed about the candidates and their stance on various issues. That way of approaching was more direct and more personal, but also wasn’t too pushy. If someone said they didn’t have time or they weren’t interested, we simply gave them the links of our resources, and walked away. Most people were very responsive to us, mostly because of how relevant politics have been in the news recently. Another thing that we think we did well was get a wide range of students to sign up. We didn’t just target the Greek system, or athletes per say, but lots of diverse members of our campus and a wide range of ages. By approaching different groups on campus, we were able to communicate our message to different sections of campus. For instance, we approached members of the marching band where we found that those students were very politically informed, whereas when we approached students sitting in the journalism college, it was a little bit of a different story.
If we were to do things differently, we would’ve made a goal of how many students we wanted to successfully go through the registering process, and reach that goal. It would have been a bit more beneficial for us to see our success rate compared to our starting goal while doing this project, and reflecting at the end.  We think it also would’ve been beneficial to go another step and ask students prior to reading if they were decided or undecided on a candidate, then ask the same question after they read the website. We think that would’ve gave us some additional information on how effective the website is, and maybe encourage more people to follow through with the voting process after they register.
Quotes from students:
  • “I was pretty sure I was siding with Bernie Sanders, but after reading, it assured me that my ideas lined up with what he is campaigning for, and it made my decision easier” Shelbie Hoggatt, Junior
  • “I wasn’t super informed about any of the candidates before reading, but this helped me get a basic idea of what the candidates are for. I signed up to vote, but I’m still waiting to hear more from the candidates before I make a decision.” Jenna Pote, Sophomore
  • “Pretty sure this website made sure I wasn’t voting for Trump, so thanks for the reassurance.” Nicole Torralbas, Junior
  • “I didn’t realize how easy and fast it was to register to vote” Ryne Kortum, Sophomore

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