Spring 2020 x COVID-19 Roundup: Andrew Goodman Vote Everywhere’s Semester Highlights
Andrew Goodman Ambassadors had an exciting and busy Spring 2020 semester as they took on new initiatives, dealt with unexpected obstacles, and continued to carry out the legacies of Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner with passion and creativity. Andrew Goodman Campus Teams faced unprecedented challenges as the COVID-19 pandemic forced students off their college campuses in mid March. Amid the pandemic, Campus Teams continued to support civic and voter education and hold voter registration and GOTV events in innovative ways. Despite being physically isolated for the second half of the Spring semester, Ambassadors pivoted and collaborated virtually, utilizing tools such as their individualized my.VoteEverywhere websites, SimpleTexting services, Zoom, and social media. Spring 2020 was a critical moment for Campus Teams as many states held their caucuses and primary elections and got out the count for the 2020 Census. Andrew Goodman Campus Teams worked hard to ensure that despite changing election dates and off-campus relocations, their students had necessary information about accessing absentee ballots and filling out the 2020 Census.
In March, AGF welcomed new Executive Director, Alexandria Harris, whose experience as a lawyer, entrepreneur, and non-profit leader will help her execute the vision and goals of the organization. She hopes to expand the Andrew Goodman Vote Everywhere program and grow its campus network with a specific emphasis on bringing in People of Color Serving Institutions and Community Colleges in Southern and battleground states and also at new levels of programmatic engagement.
The Andrew Goodman Vote Everywhere Network finished out the 2019-2020 academic year strong even with the added challenges presented by COVID-19. During the semester, our Andrew Goodman Campus Teams hosted 585 events and engaged 127,360 participants. To see how our network has executed their projects and organized to increase student voting check out the following highlights from the Spring 2020 semester.
Youth Voting Advocacy
- Ambassadors at the University of Baltimore and Towson University in Maryland supported
incorporating voting into students’ academic life by submitting written testimony and testifying at a public hearing in the Maryland legislature to advocate for the 2020 Student Voter Empowerment Act. If it had passed, this act would have institutionalized voter registration during move-in day, provide on-campus polling locations for schools with a population of 4,500, and include a voter registration link on the same website students use to register for classes. The dedicated support of these Ambassadors laid the groundwork for the act to pass in the future.
- To make voting more accessible to students, Ambassadors at the University of Dayton coordinated with their campus’ mailing service to ensure that students’ campus mail would be forwarded to addresses where they relocated so that they could receive their absentee ballots.
- Since students at Bard College were sent home before the New York primary, Bard Andrew Goodman Ambassadors sent printed absentee ballots and stamped return envelopes to students who left campus.
- The University of Alabama Andrew Goodman Campus Team sent a letter to key state officials, making the case that the state of Alabama must take immediate action to protect upcoming elections during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Voter Registration & Institutionalization
- Our Andrew Goodman Campus Teams registered 4,740 voters during the Spring 2020 semester.
- Simpson College Andrew Goodman Ambassadors helped students update their voter registration for Iowa’s local primaries in June and are encouraging students to subscribe to their text messages via our SimpleTexting platform. They also created this page of Election Resources for Students within the university’s larger COVID-19 Update website.
- Ambassadors at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Badgers Vote Coalition worked with the WisCard Office to email virtual student voter IDs that complied with state requirements. Students who were unable to obtain their voter ID in-person before leaving campus ahead of the April 7 Primary Election were still able to cast their ballot in Wisconsin upon obtaining a virtual ID and proof of residency from University Housing.
- The University of Baltimore’s Andrew Goodman Campus Team institutionalized my.VoteEverywhere on their UB Votes website and began working to institutionalize my.VoteEverywhere on UB’s student portal as well.
Civic & Voter Education
- In June, Andrew Goodman Ambassador at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Tamia Fowlkes interviewed NAACP President, Derrick Johnson, on the importance of student involvement in policy advocacy during the recent resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement.
- Andrew Goodman Ambassadors at Bowling Green State University worked on online resources to help students with the absentee ballot request process. They created a video, document, and social media content to walk students through the steps in the process and are utilizing AGF’s texting service to reach students.
- Andrew Goodman Ambassadors at Iowa State University sent Census Day notices to 6,800 University employees and also posted them on Canvas, the University’s course management system, to get out the count for the 2020 Census.
- Although many events had to be reconfigured to fit an online forum, Andrew Goodman Ambassadors at the University of San Francisco (USF) continued to hold forums and Q&A’s virtually. The USF Andrew Goodman Campus Team is shifting their discussion forums about the Census, updating voter registration, and applying for absentee ballots to Zoom. They even invited faculty members to join the calls to share their expertise.
- UChi Votes, a student voter engagement organization led by Andrew Goodman Ambassadors at the University of Chicago, created this pledge to vote tool and promoted it widely to the student body to increase student voter participation.
- In March, the Andrew Goodman Campus Team at Georgia State University worked with their campus administrators and the local government to create the first-ever on campus early-voting polling location entirely run by its students.
- Many campuses turned to social media as a mechanism to get out the vote! A Towson University Andrew Goodman Ambassador wrote an article about how, with the help of social media platforms like TikTok, we can continue to get out the vote.
Looking ahead to the 2020 Presidential Election, Ambassadors are eager to ramp up their efforts. In February, AGF announced that we hope to expand our Andrew Goodman Vote Everywhere program to reach 2.5 million college and university students, growing our network from 60 campuses to 140 institutions ahead of November. New campus recruitment was underway during the Spring 2020 semester in full force in order to reach our goal of increasing the network and student voting rate. As we constantly strategize ways to strengthen and grow our organization, we celebrate all that our Andrew Goodman Campus Teams achieved and look forward to what’s to come.
About The Author
Nicole Jefferson is The Andrew Goodman Foundation’s Communications Intern and a student at Yale College where she is majoring in Political Science.