Registering to vote and actually voting are important in any democratic election, but in a presidential election year such as this, the stakes are especially high. As a result, the Vassar community has taken several steps to ensure that as many students as possible exercise their constitutional right to vote.
For one, the college and the Vassar Student Association partnered with the nonprofit TurboVote, which assists would-be voters with registration, obtaining absentee ballots, and sending reminders so voters don’t forget to head to the polls or submit their ballots on Election Day.
As of late September, 468 students—nearly 20 percent of the student body—had signed up to vote through the service. According to Dean of Freshmen Ben Lotto, that participation rate places Vassar among the top 10 colleges and universities nationwide. A letter from President Catharine Hill to all students is hoped to increase that participation rate even further.
Meanwhile, a new student-run initiative known as REV Up is similarly encouraging students to take part in the electoral process. The initiative—which stands for Register, Educate, Vote—is a collaboration between the Vassar Democrats and the Moderate, Independent, and Conservative Alliance (MICA).
The first of three phases was launched campus-wide on September 20; it focused on registering every eligible student to vote (either through absentee ballots in a student’s home state or by registering locally in Dutchess County). Phase two will kickoff following October break, and focus on educating the student body on various voter-relevant issues, such as fundamental differences between the Democratic and Republican parties, the influence of the voting college demographic, and how to respond in cases of voter intimidation at the polls. Finally, phase three will take place in November, and focus primarily on easing the voting process for students; as part of phase three, for instance, organizers have arranged a shuttle between campus and polling locations.