The Elon Votes! team is working together virtually as it pivots its focus to the fall semester.
Though physically scattered across the country, the students and mentors involved in Elon Votes! continue to connect in online meetings as they plan for ways to grow student involvement in this year’s elections. Sophie Gerth ’22, a leader in Elon Votes! and the director of civic engagement for Elon Volunteers!, says the group’s core mission remains intact, even as they respond to challenges that come from learning and connecting remotely.
“This time is really difficult for all of us, and we’re doing wellness checks,” she said. “We’re making sure everyone is doing OK and adjusting, getting the student-to-student contact we need to stay positive and connected.”
Elon Votes! and its Voting Ambassadors, a new group of about 15 student representatives from a variety of campus clubs and interests, were ready to launch many in-person campus programs following Spring Break. They’re shifting to social media campaigns for now and expanding their plans for initiatives during the fall semester to build and support a civically engaged campus culture. Elon’s voter participation tripled from the 2014 to the 2018 midterm elections, and Gerth and her colleagues are working to extend that upward swing.
Supported by funding from the Andrew Goodman Foundation and an Intellectual Climate Grant from Elon, they plan to buy equipment to facilitate voter registration in the fall. They’re refreshing their branding for promotional items like buttons and t-shirts, collaborating on graphic design with fellow students in the School of Communications. As they plan, the students and mentors are maintaining their meeting schedules, gathering weekly as if they were on campus.
“I feel energized when I see the faces of those who’ve supported me and we begin to discuss our opportunities and partnerships,” Gerth said. “I could feel like something’s been taken away. But instead I feel like it’s strengthening all of my Elon relationships. We understand the importance of our community, and we’re all rooting for each other.”