Brown Votes



Brown Votes is a nonpartisan, University-wide, collective impact initiative committed to fostering democratic participation across campus and beyond.

Voting is one of the most fundamental features of a democracy. College-aged voters account for almost one-third of the eligible voting population, meaning the community at Brown holds significant power in shaping public policy. 

Through student leadership and support from faculty, staff and the Swearer Center for Public Service, Brown Votes facilitates voter registration and education, engages in advocacy, drives independent research and acts as a hub for collaboration with partner campus organizations. Encouraging students and other community members to engage in the democratic process is a nonpartisan activity that aligns with Brown University’s mission of educational and research excellence. Through Brown Votes and other initiatives, Brown promotes civic engagement, including encouraging students to vote in elections and to understand the issues that affect them today and in the future. For those who aren’t eligible to vote or want to do more outside of elections, there are a number of ways to civically engage the community — from local advocacy to volunteer work with a nonprofit.


Brown partners with TurboVote to make sure community members always know when elections are happening and have the information they need to vote with confidence. Through TurboVote, individuals can sign up to receive election reminders, get registered to vote and apply for an absentee ballot.

Register to vote
Check your registration status
Get election reminders
Check your state’s deadlines

Voting by Mail

Request an absentee ballot and learn about Brown University resources for voting by mail.

Students at Brown who are U.S. citizens are eligible to vote either in their home state or in Rhode Island. Students who choose to vote in their home state must register in that state and then apply for, fill out, and mail in an absentee ballot.

Step-By-Step Guide to Voting by Mail:

  1. Check your voter registration through Turbovote  

  2. Confirm your state’s deadline for requesting an absentee ballot application 

  3. Go to Turbovote to complete either an online or paper absentee ballot application (If you select the option for TurboVote to mail you your absentee ballot application, they will also include a pre-stamped and addressed return envelope).
    *Please note that in some states your ballot is verified by matching your signature to ones on file.

  4. Mail your absentee ballot application as soon as possible. There are free stamps and envelopes available at the Swearer Center and at the University and Student Shipping Service Center Window in Page-Robinson. (If you need your registration or ballot form notarized, contact us at [email protected].)

  5. Now, your Board of Elections will mail you your ballot.
    *Check your Secretary of State website to see when you will receive your ballot, if you do not receive it by said deadline, we recommend calling your Board of Elections*

  6. Fill out your absentee ballot and either mail or hand in your ballot by the deadline.

Voting in Rhode Island

Students at Brown who are U.S. citizens are eligible to vote either in their home state or in Rhode Island. Brown Votes partners with RI Secretary of State to ensure there is a polling location on campus for students and community members to vote in person. 

Learn more about voting in Rhode Island here

Informed Voting

  • Learn about candidates and ballot measures that you can expect to vote on in upcoming elections here
  • Prepare to vote in-person by learning about Voter ID Laws for your state here.
Ways to Engage
  1. Register to vote, if you are eligible. Brown partners with TurboVote to make sure you always know when elections are happening and have the information you need to vote with confidence.

  2. Become a Brown Votes student-group member! This is the best way to get involved with shaping democratic engagement on campus. We meet weekly on Sundays at 6:30 p.m. in the Swearer Center, and new members are always welcome to join us there. Please fill out this interest form and one of our leaders will reach out to you with more information. We would love to see you there!

  3. Co-Host a Civic Engagement Training for your class, student organization, or campus center. We host trainings to support your group to understand the full scope of democratic participation and create a plan for your own civic engagement. These usually run about an hour and we work with you to tailor it directly to your group's interests and needs. Send us an email at [email protected] if you’re interested.

  4. Follow our work on social media and join our official listserv. Want to support Brown Votes but don’t have the time to be a member? Follow us on Instagram and Twitter to stay up to date on all of our events and subscribe to the Swearer Center newsletter for other weekly updates!

  5. Advocacy - there are many ways to support the democratic process beyond voting! Even if you aren’t eligible to vote, there are a number of advocacy organizations both on campus and off engaging critical issues. Some ideas include:

    • Become a Poll Worker: Poll workers ensure the election process runs smoothly. Reach out to your local office of elections to find out if they need volunteers. RI allows all registered voters to volunteer: for more info, go here.

    • Volunteer for a Campaign: Campaigns are always looking for volunteers to engage potential voters over the phone, by text, or in-person. To volunteer with a campaign, you can find their contact information and ways to get involved on a candidate’s website.

    • Practice Engaged Scholarship: There are many opportunities at Brown to connect your education to critical issues both locally and nationally. Consider taking a CBLR course or learn more about Engaged Scholarship through the Swearer Center

    • Get involved in your community: Get involved with issues you care about on campus and in your local community. Consider joining protests in your area, calling or emailing elected officials, working with local organizers or nonprofits, and donating your time and/or money to causes you support. For a list of groups on campus, go here.


  • Brown Library Guide for Voting - this guide helps Brown students, staff, and faculty find FAQs, voting-related resources, and a place to ask questions. Created in partnership with the Swearer Center and the Brown University Library.
  • TurboVote - a website where Brown students, staff, and faculty can easily register to vote, request an absentee ballot, sign up for election reminders and more. 

  • Brown Votes Civic Engagement Toolkit (2022)

  • Brown Votes Faculty Toolkit (2022)

  • New Brown Votes website coming soon!


For anything Brown Votes related, please contact the official Brown Votes email: [email protected]

For information on university partnerships and Swearer Center-specific involvement, contact Austin Wilson at [email protected].

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