Columbia Votes Prepares Students for Midterm Elections
The Columbia Votes! initiative has been hard at work this semester helping students register to vote in their classes, dorms, and through partnerships with other student organizations. The initiative has also hired and trained student “voter registration geniuses” (VRGs) to help educate and motivate their peers about the importance of the youth vote and assist them in registering to vote and requesting vote-by-mail ballots for the upcoming midterm elections.
The last election saw Columbia College Chicago students voting higher (72%) than the national average college student voting rate in 2020 (67%). The initiative hopes to replicate that success in the midterm elections on November 8 where 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 34 of the 100 seats in the Senate will be contested. Professor of Journalism and Columbia Votes! founder Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin says, “we try to impress upon students that because people tend to vote less in midterm elections their vote carries more weight.”
Earlier this semester Columbia Votes! partnered with two Columbia librarians, Kim Hale and Jen Suarez, to do voter registration at Jones College Prep and outreach to community colleges. At Jones, they worked with their librarian Francis Feeley and some National Honors Society students on voting-themed 'zine-making and voter registration. The 'zines are featured in their library and the Columbia library zine exchange.
When explaining the motivation behind the initiative, Hale said, "we wanted the students to understand that their voice and participation is important in the election process, regardless of age.I overheard one Jones Prep student ask a student volunteer why he should register to vote. The student volunteer replied, ‘it's all about your future, bro’. And he's absolutely right.”