As a pivotal midterm election season draws near, HWS Votes works to increase voter registration and turnout during the fall semester. On National Voter Registration Day, members of the club will table from 1-4 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 24 in the Scandling Campus Center to register new voters through TurboVote and to encourage students to participate in dialogue and action that promote an informed democracy.
This year’s Civic Leaders of Political Activism in the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL) are Cassidy DiPaola ’18 and Bartholomew Lahiff ’20, who will oversee student voter registration through TurboVote, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that partners with college and university campuses to simplify the process of voting. In 2016, HWS Votes was ranked as the No. 1 campus nationally for registered student voters among all colleges and universities using TurboVote’s registration system.
“Our strategy is to get nonvoters to become voters. Those who are involved in politics are typically voting already,” Lahiff says. HWS Votes has already registered 500 students this semester – breaking their record of 244 students registered for midterm elections. Lahiff says the club will now turn their attention to making sure students arrive at the polls.
HWS Votes’ goals for the semester are modeled after the Democratic Engagement Plan for the 2018- 2019 academic year. The group plans to organize events throughout the year including debate-watching and election night parties, as well as monthly meetings to encourage discourse on campus about policy perspectives and current events.
In collaboration with the “Midterm Campaigns and Elections” course taught by Visiting Instructor of Political Science Ricky Price, HWS Votes plans to launch several campus-wide initiatives to increase engagement. Students in Prices’ course have already initiated “Pass a note, spread the vote!” by having students write nonpartisan and anonymous letters urging peers to participate in civic engagement through the upcoming elections. They will also be making phone trees, sending absentee deadline reminders and leading a parade to the polls on Nov. 6.
“Campaigns and elections are meant to be fun and engaging, and to not be seen as a burden,” Price says. “Midterm Campaigns and Elections” will host a weekly GOTV movie night starting Tuesday, Sept. 25, until the midterm elections.
Primary elections for the State of New York took place on Sept. 13 and polling will occur on Nov. 6 for general elections nationwide. To request an absentee ballot visit www.hws.turbovote.org.