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HamVotes: Improving Collegiate Voter Turnout


In 2018 HamVotes, a nonpartisan team of both administrators and student ambassadors, ramped up its presence on campus, organizing events to promote voter registration and increase voter turnout. This year National Voter Registration Day is Sept. 24, and HamVotes continues to boost its efforts.

HamVotes is expanding even further this year by partnering with NESCAC Votes, a NESCAC-wide voting initiative. The initiative seeks to tackle the issue of national low voter turnout across college campuses by “advancing nonpartisan civic learning and voter participation” on each NESCAC campus. NESCAC Votes’ goal is to improve voter turnout rate by “at least 11 percent across the 11 campuses in the 2020 general election, from an average of 53% to 64%.”

According to the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement, Hamilton's student voting rate in the 2018 midterm election was 40.4%, a 30.5% increase from 2014.

HamVotes co-chair Tatum Barclay ’22 said she is “super excited to be part of such a great initiative.” Working with co-chair Amanda Kim ’21, director of Opportunity Programs Phyllis Breland, Days-Massolo Center director Paola Lopéz Fincannon, and Assistant Director of Student Activities Kaity Stewart, Barclay noted that the effort would bring new, productive voter programming integrated into many other divisions of the campus.

Barclay’s involvement in voter registration organizations is not new, as her high school senior project was a voter registration drive. She began her involvement with HamVotes as a volunteer and was asked to serve as co-chair this year with Kim.

“Historically college students have said they’ve been unrepresented in past elections,” Barclay said. NESCAC Votes aims to make voting a convenient and easy a process for college students; as does HamVotes, which provides transportation to polling sites and ample information about voting procedures.

HamVotes has many opportunities for interested students to get involved with the organization. If you’d like to volunteer, the best way to get in contact is to email them at hamvotes@hamilton.edu. If your organization would like to partner with HamVotes to register members to vote, contact HamVotes as well.

Any scale of effort will bring NESCAC schools, and the nation more generally, closer to a more active and engaged voter population. The most meaningful you can take is registering to vote and acting on that privilege by participating in local, state, and national elections.

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