Olivia Papp ’23
With the ceaseless bustle of activity on college campuses across the United States, the act of voting is not often at the forefront of students minds or priorities. The process of registering to vote seems a daunting, time consuming activity which leaves students setting the mundane task aside until it is too late.
There are several different initiatives through ConnPIRG Students at Trinity which aim to solve social issues. One of the initiatives this non-partisan organization has taken on is called the New Voters Project Campaign. Maddy White ’22, the New Voters Project Campaign Coordinator, has helped students navigate the process in registering to vote at Trinity.
The goal of this project is to not only educate students about voting, but also to register as many as possible to vote. Voter Registration Day, happening this Tuesday, September 22, is crucial for the upcoming election in November. ConnPIRG Students extol the importance of voting through virtual events being held this Tuesday, in collaboration with Trinity’s TrinVotes! initiative.
Students who are members of the New Voters Project strive to make registering to vote an easier, more attainable process. White reflects on her past voting experiences, saying “My freshman year, I almost didn’t vote in the midterms because it took so long to request an absentee ballot. Registering at college is hard, which is why we’re here to teach people about voting at college. We break barriers down so we can make sure young people are represented.”
According to White, voting is key for students. “Students need to know how to vote, how to register to vote. It’s our job to make sure students have everything they need to vote,” said White. In prior years, volunteers would situate themselves outside Mather Dining hall and provide students the opportunity to register to vote on paper. However, given the circumstances of COVID-19, the team has found a great alternative for voting that is now online.
On Tuesday, each event will be virtual. First, there is a panel event from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. featuring many knowledgeable sources. Participants featured on Tuesday’s panel include: Denise Merrill, the Connecticut Secretary of State; Angela Barney, the Assistant Director of the Program in Community Action at the Holleran Center at Connecticut College; Jordan Lewis, the Vice President of Communications for the Student Government Association at Trinity College; and Abigail Williamson, Charles A. Dana Research Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy & Law at Trinity College. Following that event, there will be a social media call to action held from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., called “Remember to Register.” This event will entail spreading and circulating information about voting via Instagram accounts. The Connecticut Secretary of State, Denise Merill, will be leading “A Call to Action,” a seminar in which she will lead the audience through a game of trivia. Given the turnout of these events, the goal for the New Voters Project is to register approximately 300 Trinity students to vote this semester.
“In the 2016 election, only 46% of Trinity students voted,” said White. The current, tense political climate of 2020 paired with the plethora of virtual voting registration events this year, will hopefully encourage students to be more mindful about the importance of registering to vote this autumn.