College students are another good source for PEOs. The students that participate tend to be reliable, enthusiastic, and effective. For the students, serving as a PEO educates and encourages them to be lifelong participants in the democratic process. County boards of elections that use college students as PEOs have found the contributions of the students on Election Day invaluable.
County boards of elections can recruit college students directly or partner with college administrators and professors to help. When partnering with administrators and professors, county boards of elections have the opportunity to reach a wide range of students and establish a relationship with the colleges in their community.
Why recruiting college students is a valuable tool for county boards of elections:
- More than 60% of Ohio's counties have at least one college-level school in their borders.
- Counties with no college in their borders are adjacent border an average of three counties which contain at least one college.
- Students often commute to colleges from home, which means they may reside in a nearby county.
- Community and other 2-year college students are goal-oriented and sometimes are long term residents of their communities.
- Students are acclimated to a learning environment and can easily grasp complex election procedures.
- Students are likely to be comfortable with technology.
Why serving as a PEO is a valuable experience for college students:
- Students see democracy in action.
- Students earn a stipend while serving as a PEO.
- Students can use the experience to fulfill classroom or community service requirements.
- Students can add the experience to employment applications.
Steps to Recruiting College Students:
1. Develop an Informational Packet to Send to Colleges
This packet should include all materials college administrators and professors need to provide students with the information they need to understand the responsibilities of serving as a PEO. County boards of elections may customize many of materials available from the Secretary of State's office and develop other materials on their own as needed. Some recommended materials are:
Self-mailer Sign up Card
This self-mailer card was created by the Secretary of State's office to be distributed to anyone interested in being a PEO. Counties received requested quantities of the cards for their recruitment efforts, boards may provide these to colleges and/or more cards can be requested on the Secretary of State’s website.
This poster was created by the Secretary of State's office to be printed and displayed at schools. There are two sizes available:
Voter Registration Form
Students who have not yet registered to vote may do so with this form. Students may register to vote if they will be 18 years old by the next General Election. Schools may print the voter registration form or request copies of it here.
Important Dates to Remember Handout 2. Communicate Early with Colleges' Decision Makers
This handout must be created by the county board of elections to include important dates such as the PEO recruitment deadline, training date(s), Election Day, etc.
3. Promote the College Recruitment Program
County boards of elections should communicate with local college administrators and professors.
An email template and letter template have been created to assist in making contact with decision makers at the colleges. The email may be sent well in advance of trainings and elections and is intended to be a quick and free first point of contact. The county board of elections also may use the letter as a follow-up to the initial email contact.
A list of public universities and community colleges is available here. The lists include communications contact information, student services programs, and departments within the college.
Website and Social Media Outreach
Most college students are easily accessible using on-line tools, which are also very cost-effective. Ensure that colleges provide website and social media information to their students by making the relevant links available. Once again, encourage interested students to request information from their colleges. Post requests for assistance on your website.Post requests for assistance on your social media accounts and encourage a dialogue on these sites for further interaction. Be sure to make the posts fun and short. Encourage them to follow OhioSOSHusted on Facebook and Twitter.
County boards of elections can also encourage them to use the widget created by the Secretary of State's office to include on their website, blog and social profiles. Simply forward the code for the widget found here.
Printed materials are also very useful. Encourage colleges to distribute materials provided to them in their packets (see above).
Word of Mouth
One of the best methods for disseminating information will always be personal interaction. Encourage frequent dialogue between the county board or elections and college administrators, professors, and students about the opportunity to serve as a PEO.
4. Measure Your Success
Once the county board of elections has successfully started a college student PEO program, evaluate the effectiveness of its recruitment efforts and the value of utilizing students as PEOs.
- Track the number of students who sign up through their colleges.
- Follow up with students after they serve to hear their thoughts on the program and whether they would be willing to serve as a PEO in the future.
- Follow up with precinct judges on their impressions of the students' work.
- Follow up with college administrators and professors to evaluate the effectiveness of the program.