HamVotes: Supporting Democracy by Registering Voters
A pandemic coupled with a presidential election has made for a challenging but successful season for the HamVotes team of students, faculty, and staff focused on increasing voter participation at the College.
To ensure that students voting locally have access to the poll, shuttles will run on Tuesday, Nov. 3, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Sadove Circle to the Kirkland Municipal Building and back. Four shuttles will run continuously throughout the day.
Led by Amanda Kim ’21 and Tatum Barclay ’22, the nonpartisan team has been committed to helping Hamilton students get involved in the voting process. Their goals have been to increase student voter registration by 3.7 points to 90 percent from 2018 and to increase voter completion by 11 points to 51.4 percent.
Their strategies to achieve these goals include:
- Keeping the HamVotes website updated with information and resource links to verify voter registration, request absentee ballots, and view voting deadlines
- Creating a virtual voter education module for first-year students to review during orientation week
- Partnering with All In To Vote and NESCAC Votes
- Working with President Wippman to issue a statement of his commitment to student voter participation
- Arranging for shuttle service to the local polling station on Election Day
- Maintaining a registration desk at the COVID-19 testing site, among many other initiatives.
“As an alum I am proud to see the determination of Hamilton students to come together during such a tumultuous year,” said former HamVotes leader Nicole Taylor ’19. “The student body has rallied together around issues like the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter, and it’s this level of civic engagement that makes me confident that they will turn out to vote at even higher rates in 2020.”
HamVotes has been meeting with the College Democrats, the College Republicans, and Bridge throughout the semester to discuss ways to collaborate and engage the community around voter education, registration, and ballot access. Together they have:
- Arranged a courier service and set up a ballot box for students to drop-off mail-in ballots
- Provided stamps through the Mail Center to post absentee ballots for other counties and states for students voting in their home location
- Planned a discussion series about topics related to big issues on the ballot with a goal of finding common ground and understanding.
Professor Phil Klinkner and colleagues in the Government Department will provide live election analysis starting at 6 tonight.
For many students, this will be their first time voting. When asked about the process, one member of the Class of 2023 who voted by mail said, “Intimidating! I didn’t want to accidentally make a mistake that would prevent my vote from being counted. There is a lot of anxiety surrounding this election and voter suppression. It was fairly straightforward though. My county made it pretty easy to request the ballot, and it came by the end of September. I was able to send out my vote by the first week of October.”
When asked why she decided to vote, a member of the Class of 2022 said, “I chose to vote because I am privileged to be franchised, and the outcome of this election determines our climate future. However, I do not believe voting itself is nearly enough. Regardless of the outcome this election there is systemic change that must occur through direct action and protest.”
“I think the key to a successful functioning democracy is for everyone to vote, even if other people end up voting for those I don’t agree with,” a member of the Class of 2023 added. “Voter suppression and manipulation are the poisons threatening to dissolve our democratic institutions. Though a lot of current infrastructure incentivizes people not to vote, it is my hope that we can one day change those structures so that everyone’s vote is counted equally.”