The Drew Student Voter Project is a new initiative on campus focused on registering Drew students to vote. The main focus at the moment is gathering volunteers to train on how to canvas and put teams together to create one movement.
Shehab Marzouk (‘20), the executive director of the project, explained the inspiration behind it, stating that it was data on voting, specifically data for Drew’s campus. According to Marzouk, for the 2014 midterms, Drew’s general campus population had a 22.1 percent voting rate, while other institutions had a voting rate of 19 percent. Yet, the 22.1 percent includes the graduate and theological schools’ populations; when removed, Drew’s undergraduate population only voted at 8.1 percent, while undergraduates under 21 only voted at a rate of 7 percent.
“These numbers hurt and I want to make sure people are informed about voting,” stated Marzouk, who also explained that through the project, “I think that other students will learn why voting is important and how much of an impact they have on their future through voting.”
Emma Marie MacAfee (‘21), the Volunteer Coordinator of the project, explained, “The main goal of this project is to register as many voters as possible on campus and get them to vote in the midterm elections. Drew’s student voter turnout rate, for specifically the undergraduates, is extremely low and we just want to make sure our campus is doing its civic duty and ensuring that we’re all voting.”
The project consists of the executive director, communications director, director of volunteer coordination, the chief of staff, logistics director, financial director, research and education director and data director. “[The] leaders are there to make sure that everything that needs to get done is able to get done and if we need extra volunteers for each specific section we can dedicate that time to those groups,” explained MacAfee.
“I have worked on a few campaigns and have noticed that voter suppression is a really big problem and that especially in off-year elections, voter turnout is extremely low and it’s very important to me to make sure that everybody I know is voting,” stated MacAfee. “Because one person can make a large difference and those numbers all add up which could create major political change, and I think that as a voter it’s really important to care about where you live, care about the people you interact with, and voting for your representative is a great way to care about your community.”
The Drew Student Voter Project’s first training is on September 17 in which organizers will teach volunteers how to canvass and register voters. MacAfee explained some of the reasoning behind the training, stating, “We want to make sure that we are doing everything as non-partisan as possible and completely legally, and so that all of these registrations are completely valid.”
She stated that the best way students can get involved is by going to the registration training even if they can’t commit to being a volunteer all the time, just so they can learn how to register people in case they choose to volunteer later on.
She also explained that students can easily get involved by emailing one of the members of the project, who will help find a position suited to the student’s skill set.
“I want Drew students to know if they have any questions about voting or want to participate with us to please contact us and ask away!” Marzouk emphasized.