The Georgetown University Institute of Politics and Public Service’s GU Votes initiative held its seventh annual Storm the Dorms voter registration event on National Voter Registration Day, successfully reaching out to students who had not registered to vote.
GU Votes organized the Sept. 19 event with the goal of making voting accessible for college students and enhancing voting culture. Storm the Dorms refers to the tables set up in the five first-year dorms.
GU Votes also tabled in the Leavey Center and Red Square with the help of more than 35 volunteers.
This initiative has historically led to substantial increases in voter registration and voter turnout, according to the GU Votes website. Molly May (CAS ’24), the GU Votes director of operations, said this year’s initiative was successful in reaching out to dozens of students interested in voting and distributing knowledge of upcoming elections, but GU Votes will not know the official impact until their campus report is released next year.
“I think it was a big success this year,” May told The Hoya. “Of course, this isn’t a big election year, it’s not a midterm year, so our focus was on getting our presence out there and getting information to students to answer whatever questions that they have, and, of course, getting students, especially freshmen, registered to vote.”
May said the operation aims to engage first-years with Georgetown’s culture of civic engagement.
“The way that we target freshmen as soon as they enter, especially as National Voter Registration Day is at the beginning of the school year, so having students have one of their first introductions to Georgetown being this emphasis around civic engagement I think is really powerful,” May said. “I think getting to students as soon as you can once they are on campus is really meaningful.”
College students have low voter registration and turnout at polling stations across the United States. As of 2018, college students at all institutions nationwide have voter registration rates of approximately 66%, according to a National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) study. In the United States, the voter registration rate of people eligible to vote in November 2022 was 69.1%, according to the United States Census Bureau.
Georgetown raised its voter registration rate to 93% in 2020 through various voter registration initiatives. A campus report published in 2019 by NSLVE reported an 8% increase in the voter registration rate among Georgetown students from 2014 to 2018 from Storm the Dorms initiatives.
Stephen Blinder (CAS ’25) said he decided to volunteer for Storm the Dorms for the first time this year because he wanted to help students bridge the gap between wanting to vote and taking action.
“I think that a lot of people know that an election is coming up, but then there’s a step between knowledge of the election and actually getting involved in the democratic process,” Blinder told The Hoya. “This step seems to be the biggest hurdle for people to actually get registered, but it’s also the easiest. I think that once they are registered, they are bound to vote.”
Blinder said he wants to continue his involvement in GU Votes because of its ability to benefit Georgetown students in the knowledge of civic participation.
“Having free, fair and accessible elections is at the heart of the democratic process,” Blinder said. “So, I think Georgetown makes it better by having events like this and having clubs like GU Votes that get out there and speak to folks on the ground.”
Riley Benedetto (CAS ’27), one of the students who registered to vote during Storm the Dorms, said she believes being able to vote is important as a young adult because it increases youth voices in elections.
“I think it is really cool that voting is a big part of the culture here because young people don’t vote as much as I think we should,” Benedetto said.
Benedetto said she thought GU Votes’s goal of reaching out to students to vote is essential to young voters because it moves the government to the future.
“We can’t really get anything done on the large scale without voting,” Benedetto said. “It’s just how our government works.”