Welcome to the Pitt Votes Initiative!
We’re working to increase voter accessibility and consistency at the University of Pittsburgh by making sure students have access to voter registration, education, and engagement tools.
Explore our website:
We are so excited to share our 2020 NSLVE report! Our voting rate in 2020 was an incredible 78.5%, a 12.6% increase from 2016. To read the full report, click here.
Launched in 2013, NSLVE is a service to colleges and universities interested in learning their students’ aggregate voter registration and turnout rates in national elections since 2012. With around 10 million college student records for federal elections starting in 2012, NSLVE is also a significant database for research. Learn more about NSLVE here, and check out the University of Pittsburgh’s recent NSLVE data below. We are grateful to The Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE) at Tufts University for all of their work that goes into NSLVE data for well over 1,000 campuses.
Election Literacy Guide
- Students should be registered—or have adjusted their registration—29 days before each election day
- You can register to vote in Allegheny County if you live on or off campus as a Pitt student!
- Registering to vote is super easy and you can change your registration for any election. If you want to vote in the Pittsburgh primary elections, but vote in your hometown for the general election, you can do that!
**Registering to vote in PA without a Pennsylvania ID or Driver’s License? We recommend mailing in your application to make sure your signature is not rejected online (this is common without a formal PA ID). You can find that form here or pick one up from the Office of PittServes on the 9th floor of the WPU!
Students have several options when it comes to actually casting a ballot. You can:
- Go to the polls on Election Day
- Send in an absentee or mail-in ballot. Check out your state’s absentee/mail-in voting laws here.
- Depending on your state, vote early in-person. Check out your state’s early voting rules here.
Federal Senate seats are up for reelection every 6 years and federal House seats are up for reelection every 2 years. Presidential elections are held every 4 years. In the next midterm election (November 2022), all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 34 of the 100 seats in the Senate will be contested. This will be the first election affected by the redistricting that will follow the 2020 census (learn more).
State House seats are up for reelection every 2 years and State Senate seats are up every 4 years. Both elections happen during even-numbered years. Other state elections include Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Auditor General, and State Treasurer. State elections might also include seats within the court system, for example, Pennsylvania holds elections for its Supreme Court, Commonwealth Court, and Superior Court.
Local County Offices
Some examples of county local officials include: County Executive (focuses on the problems and issues surrounding an entire county), District Attorney (DA) (the chief law enforcer for your community), County Treasurer (serves as the depository for all funds belonging to the county, schools, and other special districts within each county), County Sheriff: (The responsibilities of sheriffs vary considerably by county- many sheriffs have the role of a police chief, though some have limited law enforcement duties), and County Clerks (supervise elections, including nominations, ballots, polling places, and poll workers).
Local City Offices
Some examples of city local officials include Mayor (responsible for the city’s daily operations), City Council (members have the final vote in creating laws and approving a city budget), City Attorney (generally handles all legal matters for the city, including traffic tickets and civil lawsuits), City Clerks (manage the records of your city, and are often called the historians of the community), and the School Board: (decides what and how the students are learning by setting policies, curriculums, and budgets for the school districts) To learn more about each position, click here.
- Beyond the different offices up for election, there are also 2 types of election that happen each year, a primary election and a general election.
- Because of Pennsylvania laws, the primary elections decide which two candidates from each party will be on the ballot. The primary elections in Pennsylvania are typically held in late April or early May.
- In Pennsylvania, you can only participate in a primary election if you are registered as a Democrat or a Republican—not if you are registered as an Independent Party.
- The general election decides which candidate ultimately takes the seat. These elections are held the first Tuesday of November.
- Anyone can participate in the general election, regardless of party affiliation or lack thereof.
Voter Friendly Campus
The University of Pittsburgh is honored and excited to have earned a Voter Friendly Campus designation as of March 2021. The Voter Friendly Campus designation program was started through the partnership of Campus Vote Project and NASPA in 2016. The goal of the program is to help institutions develop plans to coordinate administrators, faculty, and student organizations in civic and electoral engagement.
ACC Gold Medal Designation
The All IN Campus Democracy Challenge is a national awards program. By recognizing colleges and universities for their commitment to increasing student voting rates, the Challenge encourages higher education institutions to help students form the habits of active and informed citizenship, make democratic participation a core value on their campus, and cultivate generations of engaged citizens who are essential to a healthy democracy. The University of Pittsburgh most recently earned a Gold Medal Designation.
National Study of Learning Voting, and Engagement
The National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) offers colleges and universities an opportunity to learn their student registration and voting rates and, for interested campuses, a closer examination of their campus climate for political learning and engagement and correlations between specific student learning experiences and voting. Learn about NSLVE and view the University of Pittsburgh’s most recent NSLVE data.