Student volunteers host “Virtual Party at the Polls” to turn out the youth vote in the 2020 elections

CONNPIRG Students and the campus vote coalition reach thousands of their peers in days before the election day deadline to vote

Press Release

For Immediate Release-

MEDIA CONTACT:
Lars Dahl, CONNPIRG Students Campus Organizer, 518-414-1419, [email protected]
Manny Rin, Student PIRGs New Voters Project Director, 925-234-1457, [email protected]

Connecticut  CONNPIRG’s New Voters Project, one of the country’s oldest student-led youth voter mobilization groups, organized a final push to help young voters cast their ballot before Election Day. Volunteers from over a dozen campuses across the state volunteered at a virtual “Party at the Polls” event to call their peers and classmates to make sure they have a plan to vote this election. The massive virtual grassroots effort to register and mobilize students on college campuses this semester culminated in this final surge.

Media interested in observing the final day of the Party at the Polls on Tuesday November 3rd from 8am-8pm either locally or nationwide can RSVP here for the video link. Student organizers will be available for interviews.

The Party at the Polls event, which was organized by CONNPIRG Students in coordination with New Voters Project student groups in 16 other states, featured hundreds of volunteers, helping new voters make a plan to vote and navigate any challenges they may encounter when voting for the first time. With election day being tomorrow, many students will have to vote in person. The Student PIRGs published a student guide on how to vote safely in person. Including tips like: dressing for the weather, bringing snacks, and downloading a show to watch on your phone. 

“Youth voting is a crucial part of building power, and taking control of our own future,”   said a student leader from UMass Lowell, Annie Soup-Koagne, who is the Event Coordinator for the Association of Students of African Origin, and member of the Black Advisory Council on her campus, “Young people have the opportunity to create a difference in the world we will continue to live in, and making it a solid place for our future generations.”

Despite challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, student interns and volunteers from college campuses worked to turn out the youth vote this semester. Activities have shifted from clipboards to Google docs; and from holding signs at in-person rallies to speaking in front of virtual backgrounds on Zoom calls. 

Samantha Perlman, Civic Engagement Director at Scholars Strategy Network kicked off the 8-hour event on Monday emphasizing the importance of peer-to-peer contacts for youth voter turnout. 

“Mobilizing youth voters is about activating our future. By calling our youth peers, we are reminding them that their voices matter and that we want them included in our political process,” said Perlman.

While on campus efforts looked different, the importance of peer-to-peer work remained impactful. As of Monday evening, CONNPIRG student volunteers had talked to a total of 500 students over the phone and sent over 2,500 vote-related text messages within 10 days of Election Day.

“Young people have the opportunity to make our voices heard in our democracy, but only if we vote,” said Caroline Munn, Trinity college class of ‘21 and CONNPIRG’s New Voters Project Campaign Coordinator, “It is fulfilling to know that someone will vote because of the plan I helped them make. I’m even more encouraged by the thousands of conversations and contacts that we’re making together as a team.”

Recent data shows that in a number of states, early voting rates exceed rates at the same point in 2016. While many factors contribute to this drastic increase in youth voting, the organizing work of student organizers, faculty, and campus organizations should not be overlooked. 

“Nationally, I am encouraged to see so many young people voting early and the work CONNPIRG student leaders and our partners in Connecticut contributed to that effort.” said Manny Rin, New Voters Project Director, “After the election the work continues to make sure the youth voice is heard. Our student leaders will continue working with their campuses to ensure voting is a part of the fabric of their institutions and not just an effort that gets attention every 4 years.”

“Your vote has never been more vital to an election than this one,” said Katherine S. Newman, the UMass System Chancellor of Academic Programs, “No matter what your political persuasion, make sure your voice is heard now so that elected officials pay attention to the issues that matter to you when balloting ends.” 

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Follow @CONNPIRGStudents on social media and visit www.CONNPIRGStudents.org for more information and updates on the campaign

The Student PIRGs voter registration and turnout effort is part of its New Voters Project campaign, one of the largest nonpartisan youth voter mobilization efforts in the country. The Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project has run peer-to-peer student voter mobilization drives to turn out the youth vote on college campuses for more than 30 years. Its philosophy is that the full participation of young people in the political process is essential to a truly representative, vibrant democracy. The New Voters Project does not endorse, either explicitly or implicitly, a political candidate or political party for elected office.

Founded in 2012, National Voter Registration Day is designed to create an annual moment when the entire nation focuses on registering Americans to exercise their most basic right—the right to vote. Nearly 3 million Americans have registered to vote on the holiday since the inaugural National Voter Registration Day in 2012.