Ahead of midterm elections, AU launches voter registration initiative Eagles Elect

Initiative has already reached over 1,000 students

Students speak about why they're registering to vote or requesting an absentee ballot on National Voter Registration Day in Bender Library. 

Eagles Elect, AU’s new voter registration initiative, is working to help students register to vote and increase voter participation at AU ahead of this November’s midterm elections.

The initiative is a reboot of AU Student Government’s 2016 voting initiative, TurboVote. Eagles Elect is an online service that focuses on helping with voter registration, but also provides services for absentee and mail-in ballots.

Additionally, the organization sends reminders to students about voting deadlines in their home state. Senior Sam Rogers, Eagles Elect’s student liaison, hopes the initiative will reach more students.

“The campaign in 2016 was relatively successful, but it didn’t reach enough students, so it needed a reviving push,” Rogers said.

The initiative had an initial goal of getting at least 1,000 students to use the TurboVote system, Rogers said. Eagles Elect will try to reach voters throughout the election season, but their main event was an all-day event on Sept. 25, National Voter Registration Day.

On that day, students were able to register to vote or request an absentee ballot in Bender Library. Additionally, printing for registration and absentee requests, envelopes and stamps were provided for free, according to associate librarian Gwendolyn Reece said. According to Rogers, 1,000 students registered to vote and requested their absentee ballots at the event, and similar events are planned until Election Day.

The library wants to “call attention” to the fact that students have the right to cast an absentee ballot for a voting member of Congress, while D.C. residents don’t, Reece said. Through social media, the group said it helped over 1,000 students register to vote and request absentee ballots during the registration day.

Previously, the initiative was sponsored by various political student organizations, including AU College Democrats and AU College Republicans. But this year’s program is strictly non-partisan, instead partnering with university offices, with the Office of Development & Alumni Relations taking the lead.

Belinda Peter, the assistant director of the Office of Development & Alumni Relations, said she became involved with the initiative because Penny Pagano, co-chair of the AU Women’s Network, wanted to ensure AU students remained civically engaged.

Rogers said Eagles Elect also wants to work with student groups to put on events for members of their organizations.

For students who are unsure if they want to vote, Rogers recommends registering regardless.

“At some point you will want to have the option to vote, so whether or not you want to vote this election is immaterial,” Rogers said.

aweinstein@theeagleonline.com

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