Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ nonpartisan, student-led, civic engagement and voter registration initiative is ramping up efforts to increase registration and voting ahead of the 2020 elections. HWS Votes works with politically-oriented groups on campus, from the College Republicans and the College Democrats to Americans for Informed Democracy and the Progressive Student Union, to maximize student participation and understanding of the electoral process.
Dovetailing with the 2020 ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, HWS Votes is building on the campus’ 2016 voting engagement, with two primary goals for this election cycle: increasing the student registration rate from 77.9 percent to at least 85 percent and increasing the student voting rate from 37.2 percent to at least 50 percent.
“We see voting as a threshold to civic engagement and are dedicated to registering voters, and continuous civic engagement education and service,” wrote HWS Votes in a recent email to faculty and staff. “Our commitment is to reach every eligible HWS student personally to encourage them to register and vote in the fall election…We have a brilliant coalition growing and mobilizing…with a series of toolkits on [everything from] Voting 101 to Local Politics.”
To meet their goals, HWS Votes representatives, including organizers Audrey Platt ’21 and Kate Equinozzi ’23, will be visiting more than two dozen classes in the first six weeks of classes, both in person and virtually. Faculty and staff interested in a visit from HWS Votes may contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
With the support of Summer of Service funding through the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL), HWS Votes has been active throughout the summer, producing an orientation video for incoming students and planning for collaborations with HWS athletic teams and the Office of Residential Education.
HWS Votes began during the 2004 presidential election. Since partnering with TurboVote in 2012, HWS Votes has helped more than 2,000 students, faculty, staff and Geneva community members register to vote, request absentee ballots and receive election reminders. In 2016, the HWS campus also received the distinction of having the top percentage of students enrolled using the service with 960 users, or 43 percent of the student body.
In the photo above, Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies Craig Talmage, Kate Equinozzi ’23, Audrey Platt ’21 and CCESL Director Katie Flowers meet to discuss voter turnout.