Georgetown students hailing from states around the country registered to vote by way of absentee ballots in anticipation of upcoming presidential primaries at a voter registration drive called GU Votes: Absentee Voter Registration Party in Sellinger Lounge on Wednesday.
Hosted by GU Votes, a subcommittee of Georgetown University Politics, along with the College Democrats and College Republicans, the event aimed to register Georgetown students to vote before the fast-approaching deadlines, especially those from states that will be participating in the upcoming Super Tuesday primaries.
The event lasted two hours and in that time, over 30 students from more than seven different states including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Texas and Virginia, each with their own distinct voter registration process, registered to vote.
GU Politics Director of Programming Sophie Goldmacher said the event was initiated by the institute’s desire to encourage more students to vote despite a complicated registration process.
“As a hub of political activity and engagement on campus, GU Politics felt like it was our responsibility to help Hoyas navigate the sometimes confusing world of registering to vote and absentee balloting,” Goldmacher said. “The best part is, GU Votes is totally driven and managed by Georgetown students – Hoyas helping Hoyas have a voice in the political process.”
TurboVote, a nonprofit voter registration organization used at college campuses across the country that recently forged a relationship with Georgetown, provided technological support for the event. The nonprofit aids students in navigating their states’ voting process by helping them register, obtain absentee ballots and vote by mail.
Zach Esber (COL ’19) emphasized the impact TurboVote had on streamlining registration.
“It really expedited the process. Our system of registering to vote in general is pretty convoluted so I was surprised with how simple it was to use TurboVote,” Esber said. “Anything that makes voting easier, especially on a college campus, is worthwhile.”
For GU Votes, getting students to register themselves and vote is of paramount importance. The program takes aim at political apathy on campus by encouraging students to take time in their busy schedules to register.
Goldmacher highlighted the power of voting, especially for students, as a means of ensuring representation.
“Voting is one of our most fundamental rights as Americans, and we encourage students to vote no matter their political party,” Goldmacher said.
GU Politics Student Advisory Board member Madwa-Nika Cadet (MPP ’17), who volunteered at the event, said registering is a necessary step to take in enacting change.
“Being registered is the first step towards exercising your right as a citizen to express yourself. I think young people don’t want to vote, they say that the system is broken and they don’t want to participate,” Cadet said. “If that’s true, that the system is already broken, voting can help make it better.”
GU Votes member Gabriela Barrera (SFS ’19), who helped register other students, acknowledged the difficulty of absentee voting, but encouraged all students to take the time to register.
“Voting is an extremely important process, but I can testify to the fact that when you have to worry about extracurriculars and academics it’s really easy to forget to register absentee and get your ballot in,” Barrera said. “Our project is to make sure that with all the hustle and bustle of college life, students are still able to vote.”
Luc Woodard (MSB ’18), who registered to vote by absentee ballot during the event, agreed that voting provides him, and other students, the best option to participate in the political process.
“I think any time that you push to get younger people to vote it’s good. Historically young people have been one of the least represented groups,” Woodard said. “I decided to register to vote today because I feel that right now I’m really disappointed in the current political state of the U.S. and if I didn’t register and didn’t make my voice heard then I wouldn’t have the right to be disappointed in the results of the election.”
Barrera said that in light of the currently tumultuous presidential elections, the success of the event, as well as the creation of GU Votes itself, can be attributed to the collective value of voter registration.
“Spring break is coming up in a few weeks, go back home and register to vote,” Barrera said. “Do whatever you can to make sure that your voice as a college student, your voice as a millennial, is heard.”