Voter Education Month 2018 Message to HBCU Students & Administrators




During this season of political decay in America–divisive politics, the unraveling of the most important equal opportunity laws of the Nation; banning travelers to “your land and my land” because of their religion and/or ethnicity; equivocation over whether white supremacists who violently attack peaceful protesters in the free exercise of their First Amendment rights are bad and engaged in un-American activity; reckless and wanton killing of school children and our sons and daughters in the free exercise of their rights across the Nation–voting is the single most important action all eligible voters can take to get America on track and keep her on track. Voting is the most important thing we can do for closing the achievement gap, closing the wealth gap, closing the African American male/female education gender gap; for ameliorating the health disparities, and otherwise attaining a just and equitable America.

Those who vote and have their votes fully and fairly counted and those who do not, determine who gets how much of what, where, when, how, and why; whether we will have a public education of equal high quality for all; whether and how poverty will be reduced; how the Nation will create financial, intellectual, and social value that will enable it to maintain its preeminence as a world power, and who will get cut in. The black vote keeps black lives rising!

College students and those in the 18-25-year age group have the power to get America on course to improving the plight of those who have traditionally been locked out and left behind; the power to decide whether America will return to her darkest days, or to advance the movement toward justice, IF THEY VOTE.

In 2016, 18-29-year-olds made up about 21% of the eligible voting population. Only 50% of eligible voters in that age group voted, reducing 18-29-year-olds to just 18% of the electorate; and HBCU student voter turnout decreased by 10% in 2016. Every HBCU student must vote and participate fully in the electoral process. The vote is the power! When students vote, they can determine whether public dollars will go toward student financial aid and whether the aid will be in the form of grants or loans; whether Upward Bound, Educational Opportunity Centers, Student Support Services, the Ron McNair Program, GEAR UP, the Pell Grant, and other federal and state programs designed to equalize educational opportunities and close achievement and attainment gaps continue to exist and at what level they will be funded.

When HBCU students vote, they can determine whether HBCUs will continue to exist and at what levels they will be funded. HBCU students must do better in 2018 than they did in 2016. Colleges and universities have an obligation to assist and facilitate the voter participation of their campus-based students enrolled in degree- or certificate-granting programs. In Section 487 (a) (23) of the Higher Education Act (HEA), it specifies that the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) requires institutions to distribute voter registration forms to their students. It states, “[Y]ou must make the voter registration forms widely available to your students and distribute the forms individually to your degree or certificate program students who are physically in attendance at the institution.” The letter also clarified institutions may instead distribute voter registration forms with an electronic message devoted exclusively to voter registration. Electronic messages must contain an attachment or an Internet address where the form can be accessed or downloaded. NAFEO’s civic participation partners, Fair Elections Center, Campus Vote Project, and Fair Elections Legal Network, have a wealth of information that you can download from their websites.

NAFEO is also here to support our member, the HBCUs and PBIs and their stakeholders, especially the students, with voter registration, voter education, voter mobilization, voter participation for liberation; to keep black lives rising!