By BARB KOLB
Before residents of the United States can vote, they must be registered. The Caroline Scholars have partnered with the Campus Election Engagement Project to encourage voter registration and build election awareness among the students, faculty and staff at Mount Mary College.
According to its website, CEEP “is a non-partisan project that helps America’s colleges and universities get as many of their 20 million students as possible to register, volunteer in campaigns, educate themselves and turn out at the polls.”
Jessica Cox and Jessica Benson are two Caroline Scholars who are actively involved in this non-partisan effort. Cox, a senior occupational therapy student, has experience as both a volunteer and an employee at the League of Young Voters. With a goal to recruit 15 volunteers and to influence 150 students to register, Cox applies her real-world skills to build awareness on the Mount Mary campus. She stresses the importance of voting.
“Women didn’t always have the right to vote,” Cox said. “I want people to be mindful of the fight that women did for us throughout history in order to get us to the point [where we can] vote. You have the right to vote. Your vote is really your voice.”
Benson, a senior chemistry student, is excited about being a first-time voter.
“I’ve never voted before and now I’m registered,” Benson said. “I’m going to vote for the first time in the presidential election.”
The project is planned in two phases. Phase one lasts until 20 days prior to the election. During this stage, the purpose is to answer questions and help people get registered. While the Caroline Scholars are not able to register potential voters at their booth, they can talk them through the process of registering via TurboVote, at the voter registration office or at the polls on election day.
Phase 2 will focus on the importance of voting and will include guest speakers on campus. Information about these sessions will be posted on the daily campus-wide email.
Caroline Scholars also have a booth in the hallway near the Alumnae Dining Room to share information and answer questions on election topics such as:
- Various ways to register to vote
- Absentee voting
- Non-partisan information on the candidates and their websites
- Voting location based on home address
The booth will be manned during the meal hours until Oct. 17.
Although the current focus is on the presidential election, Cox and Benson also encourage voters to remember there will be a spring election that would benefit from their participation.
Benson stressed the most beneficial aspect of voting is that each voter’s voice will be heard.
“When you talk, you are voicing your opinion,” Benson said. “When you vote, your entire voice is heard.”