On Tuesday, Sept. 25, organizations around the country participated in National Voter Registration Day, organizing registration drives and handing out mail-in ballots. Drew's voting initiative, the Drew Student Voter Project, took advantage of the holiday, registering students in Commons, Brothers College and the Ehinger Center throughout the day.
The initiative was founded to promote higher levels of voting among the Drew student population. Turnout rates are generally lower for midterm elections than presidential ones — in the 2014 midterms, national turnout was 36.4 percent, while 55.7 percent of voters turned out for the 2016 election. According to Prof. Timothy Carter, the DSVP faculty advisor, only 8.1 percent of undergraduate students voted in the 2014 midterm election, and the number drops to just seven percent of those students under 21 years old.
Shehab Marzouk (‘20), executive director of the Drew Student Voter Project, said that the organizers interacted with 145 students over the course of the day. Organizers registered 54 of these people to vote, while others picked up requests for mail-in ballots or signed voter commitment cards pledging to vote. Volunteer Coordinator Emma Marie MacAfee (‘19) said that follow up canvasses will be held “to ensure that students are sending in their mail-in ballots and getting their registration forms for their home states.”
While this was the first major event that DSVP held, the initiative plans to host more throughout the next two months. The next event, Party at the Mailbox, will be held on Oct. 16, from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. It will focus on collecting and sending out the mail-in ballot requests that students have filled out. Marzouk credits the Political Science Department, the Department of Civic Engagement and Student Government for assisting with the event, and asks students to email him at email@example.com if they have any questions about registration.