Elon Votes! urges students to cast their ballots on Super Tuesday

Nonpartisan campus organization Elon Votes! is working to prepare the campus community for North Carolina's March 3 primary election.

As voters across the country prepare for the March 3 Super Tuesday primary elections, Elon students are encouraging the campus community to make its voice heard this election season.

Elon Votes!, the nonpartisan campus initiative to promote voting and civic engagement, is preparing the campus community to be active in the upcoming primary and general elections. Student coordinators Ellie Snyder ’20 and Andrea Sheetz ’21, along with a number of student, faculty and staff volunteers, have been working diligently to host events, perform outreach and prepare the Elon student body for Election Day.

“It’s been proven that if people vote early in life, they keep voting,” Sheetz said. “There’s talk of generational apathy, and I don’t think that’s right. I think everyone deserves to have an equal voice, and part of that is starting early.”

Students gather in Moseley Center to watch the Democratic presidential candidate debate at an event sponsored by Elon Votes! (photo by Morgan Collins)

Elon Votes! regularly hosts voter registration drives, information sessions and watch parties to promote voting, volunteering and other forms of civic engagement among students. The organization’s most recent watch party in the Moseley Center for the Democratic Party presidential primary debate held in Charleston, South Carolina, on Feb. 25.

“This debate cycle has been interesting,” Snyder said. “We’ve had really, really good turnout this semester because there’s a lot going on politically, so a lot of people have been really interested.”

In an effort to ensure every student has the knowledge and the opportunity to cast their ballots, Elon Votes! also hosts a series of panel discussions about local, state and national elections and provides shuttles that take students to one of two local polling locations on the day of the general election. The goal is to show students just how important it is that they vote and engage in the democratic process.

An Elon Votes! poster asks students why they vote.

“We are so lucky that we get to have such a strong voice in what happens in our country,” Snyder said. “If you’re mad, you get to say something, if you like how things are going, you get to say something. We have the right, we have the ability to decide what kind of country we want to be, and I think that is so powerful.”

Housed in the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement, Elon Votes! was founded in 2014 by former Kernodle Center student leader Meredith Berk ’15 and Associate Director of the Kernodle Center Bob Frigo to provide students with the necessary resources to register to vote and cast their ballots in upcoming elections.

In 2014 Berk became the first campus ambassador for the Andrew Goodman Foundation, a position Snyder and Sheetz hold today. The Foundation, named after a Freedom Rider killed by the Ku Klux Klan during the “Freedom Summer of 1964,” aims to promote voting and civic engagement on college campus and among young people across the nation.

Elon Votes! has continued the work that Berk and Frigo started, reaching campus to provide students with the opportunities to learn about and engage in their civic duty. Elon Votes!, in conjunction with the Kernodle Center, the Elon University Political Engagement Work Group and the Council on Civic Engagement, has created a website to provide students with resources about registering to vote and casting their ballots. The website includes information about voter registration, casting absentee ballots and resources for students, faculty and staff about election issues and candidates.

The next Elon Votes! watch party will be on March 3, as students gather to learn the results of Super Tuesday voting at 8 p.m. at Moseley Center. Students interested in becoming an Elon Votes! voting ambassador are invited to attend an information session about the initiative on Wednesday, March 4, at 5:30 p.m. in the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Engagement.

To learn more about Elon Votes! or how to get involved, email its coordinators at elonvotes@elon.edu.