Cal U's American Democracy Project engages students in voter registration effort, encourages civic engagement – Cal Times
November 12, 2021
The American Democracy Project promoted Pennsylvania’s Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021 to student voters at Cal U in an effort to continue its goal of encouraging young adults to participate in government functions.
Laura Tuennerman, professor of history and acting director of the American Democracy Project on campus, said the project’s main goal is to prepare students to be informed and engaged citizens in a nonpartisan way.
“The committee has also organized a variety of campus programs to expose students to various issues from climate change to the importance of school boards,” said Tuennerman. “In addition to offering campus programming, we work to support student voter registration and student voting.”
Election Day was a municipal election, so citizens of Pennsylvania could vote for candidates for local offices. Tuennerman said it can differ depending on where you live.
“In California for example that would include the major,” Tuennerman said. “In some places district magistrates, city council and school board members were also elected.”
Tuennerman said many states allow citizens to register the day of Election day, however in Pennsylvania state they must register ahead of time.
Demont Davis, a junior minoring in Political Science and acting event organizer for the American Democracy Project, said prior to Election Day they supported student votingby hosting events and voter registration physically outside of school-sponsored events.
“We did have voter registration tables on National Voter Registration Day – in the library and in the student center,” Tuennerman said. “We also had them at the Constitution Day and Vaccine Hesitancy events in Duda hall.”
Tuennerman said they also posted reminders about registering and voting on the campus’ online announcements page and on their social media accounts. The American Democracy Project also got into contact with WCAL, Cal U’s radio station and CUTV, Cal U’s TV station. Davis said they’re also spreading awareness through put-up signs all around campus, as well as offering townhalls with zoom webcasts.
“We took these measures because we know Cal has a very large commuter population, and many students who are online,” Davis said.
Davis said it’s important to encourage voting becausepeople only have to vote once to be more likely to do it again.
“I see it as our most basic civic duty,” Davis said. “We are all given the freedom to vote so we can’t pass up on it. But for young adults we finally have a say in the world. We all have a voice so, why not use it?”
Davis said at Cal U, there hasn’t been a decline in registered voters it’s the complete opposite.
“The most recent data is available from the 2020 presidential election,” Davis said. “The number of voters registered has increased by around 12% which mean overall at Cal U, we are currently at 82%.”
These student voter ratings can be found in Cal U’s 2020National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement CampusReport.
The American Democracy Project plans to try and add voter registration to the first-year seminar classes.
“We try to reach students in every way possible but we are always looking for volunteers and suggestions,” Tuennerman said.
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