Puffin Democracy Fellow
Awarded Year: 2018-19
Valencia Richardson is a third-year law student at Georgetown University. She is also a certified Distinguished Communicator, recipient of Upper Division Honors from the LSU Honors College, and a Fulbright Scholar.
Valencia graduated magna cum laude from Louisiana State University in 2016, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication, with a concentration in Political Communication and a minor in Spanish. In 2014, Valencia became an Andrew Goodman Vote Everywhere Ambassador at LSU. She also co-founded Geaux Vote LSU, an on-campus student organization aimed at assisting LSU students with registering to vote, voting, and staying up-to-date on upcoming elections. Under her leadership as a Vote Everywhere Team Leader and Geaux Vote LSU President, her team was instrumental in registering hundreds of students to vote, advocating for higher education funding, as well as increasing voter accessibility for college students by leading the charge to change Louisiana’s state law to allow student IDs to become eligible voter IDs.
Valencia continues her research to expand voter accessibility in the South as a Puffin Democracy Fellow. She is also the author of Young and Disaffected, publishing December 2019 by New Degree Press.
A New Southern Strategy for College Voter Engagement
Access to the polls for young people (18-34) is particularly suppressed in the Southeastern United States. We know that voter suppression, through efforts to prevent access to registration and
voting, depresses overall turnout. Studies show that among other barriers, stricter voter ID laws can depress registration and turnout.
In 2016, Louisiana passed an ID law that will help thousands of college students in Louisiana be able to use their student IDs to vote. Now it is time to look ahead into other states to see how legislation can be created to increase accessibility to college students across the South. Beginning in Fall 2018, we will build a movement around increasing accessibility on college campuses. The first step will be voter ID, where we will aim to promote and promulgate a policy that allows students to use their student ID as voter ID, starting with schools already partnering with AGF in the Southeast.