Spring 2019 Roundup: 4 Snapshots from the Vote Everywhere Network
After the historic youth wave during the 2018 Midterm Elections, Vote Everywhere (VE) campus partners continued the momentum well into the Spring 2019 semester. In early January, the new Congress introduced the For the People Act, which has been labeled a “sweeping anti-corruption bill.” Several VE campus teams wrote letters to their U.S. Representatives, urging them to advocate for the Act in the House. A week later, a small group of the VE network joined the Let New York Vote Coalition for an Albany Day of Action. The coalition successfully advocated for the passage of early voting, consolidated primaries, pre-registration for 16-and-17-year-olds, registration portability, and online voter registration in the state of New York. This set the stage for a highly successful semester across a myriad of areas.
Read below to find out more:
A Recap of Spring 2019
- We expanded our network to 59 campuses by welcoming three new campus partners. University of La Verne and Xavier University are both Minority Serving Institutions, while Georgia State University’s Clarkston Campus is located in one of the most diverse cities in the country.
- Vote Everywhere Ambassadors organized 449 events with a total of over 6,000 participants, engaging more than 15,000 people on and off campus.
- Twenty Vote Everywhere campus partners received the “Voter-Friendly Campus” designation, awarded by NASPA and the Fair Election Center’s Campus Vote Project.
- Three Vote Everywhere Ambassadors were selected as recipients of the Newman Civic Fellowship. Hannah Fraser (Western Carolina University ’20), Fiorenza Herrera Diaz (Miami Dade College ’19), and Itzel Velazquez (University of Central Arkansas ’19) were all nominated by their university President to receive the honor.
- Yark Beyan, Team Leader at Stony Brook University, was awarded the University’s first-ever Excellence in Civic Leadership Award, now named the Yark Beyan Excellence in Civic Leadership Award.
- Zoë Williamson, Team Leader at Louisiana State University, was awarded the University’s Arden O. French Leadership Award
- The Georgia State University Vote Everywhere team was awarded the University’s Patton Award for Outstanding Student Organization
- Several Vote Everywhere Ambassadors from across the network had the opportunity to join the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School for Civic Campus national convening
- The Iowa State University team presented on promising practices with Vote Everywhere at the Youth Engagement Summit, hosted at the Iowa State Capital by Secretary of State, Paul Pate.
Voter Registration and Institutionalization
- Alabama A&M University registered over 400 students during the Spring 2019 semester. The team collaborated with the local chapter of the NAACP to register freshmen students during first-year courses, and also registered students during Civic Engagement Week and in their Beyond the Normal lecture series featuring Dr. Bernice A. King.
- Georgetown University’s GU Votes created and institutionalized a voter registration drop box system available in all on-campus residence halls for students.
- In conjunction with the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office, the University of Florida Vote Everywhere team held a voter registration event at three different campus locations. The event also served as an opportunity to confirm students were already registered.
Voter Impediment Removal
- Louisiana State University’s Vote Everywhere team, known locally as Geaux Vote, successfully testified in front of the Baton Rouge Metropolitan City Council to consolidate two student voting precincts into one on-campus polling location. This redrawing will make it simpler and easier for students to cast their ballots.
- The University of Chicago Vote Everywhere team met with the local Board of Elections to finalize the approval of a polling location on campus for the 2020 Presidential Election.
- Eastern Carolina University presented in front of the Board of Elections to advocate for an on-campus early voting site.
- Arizona State University’s Vote Everywhere team hosted a Breakfast with Legislators forum, where students were granted the opportunity to pose policy questions to State Senator Juan Mendez and Tempe Union Governing Board Member Brian Garcia. The Louisiana State University team also held a similar breakfast for students to meet with local representatives.
- Miami University planned and organized a How to Advocate for Your Rights workshop series, which delved into community organizing amidst the 2020 Census, safety measures for protesting, and skills needed to run for office.
- The Binghamton University team produced a voter accessibility video to educates students on barriers to voting the state of New York. The video included interviews with students who had difficulty voting and Oliver Blaise, the commissioner of the Broome County Board of Election.
- Spelman College’s Vote Everywhere team held a panel event titled, “Fighting Voting Suppression with Civic Education.” The panelists included David Goodman, President of The Andrew Goodman Foundation, and Park Cannon, member of the Georgia House of Representatives, representing the 58th district.
As we head closer to the 2020 Presidential Election, Vote Everywhere Ambassadors are working tirelessly to register, educate, and empower their peers. Ambassadors are also working to increase voter accessibility on campus and remove harsh impediments to the ballot. These impediments include policies like Tennessee’s new Third Party Voter Registration law, which places extremely strict standards on groups engaged in voter registration and makes them vulnerable to facing civil and criminal charges. Tennessee’s law, and many others across the country, threaten to undercut the value of grassroots civic engagement work. This is why The Andrew Goodman Foundation joined Tennessee’s NAACP, the Democracy Nashville-Democratic Communities and The Equity Alliance in filing a lawsuit against the state of Tennessee to challenge the law.
Our Vote Everywhere Ambassadors make a significant difference in the lives of young voters. They understand why partnerships with university administrators and local officials are critical to their success. They also understand how community buy-in will galvanize their districts. These next few months lay the groundwork for what is ahead in 2020. We know that with the support of Program staff and our dedicated donor community, Vote Everywhere Ambassadors will make an even greater mark on our democracy.
About the Author
Kevin Hurtado is the Communications and Development Associate at The Andrew Goodman Foundation. He graduated from Ramapo College of New Jersey with a Bachelor’s in International Studies and a minor in Human Rights and Genocide. Previously, Kevin worked as an Executive Assistant and Office Manager at Newark Charter School Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting educational equity in the city of Newark.