The Covid-19 pandemic brought many challenges to our campus community, state, and country, and voting in the 2020 election was not left out as a point of concern. One of our main goals as Vote Everywhere ambassadors is to increase student voter turnout, so from the beginning of the Fall 2020 semester, we were focused on how to energize students to get out to vote during such a bleak time. We continually reminded students how important it is to use this opportunity to make their voices heard. Young people are often told that our opinions and ideas are unimportant, but it is imperative that us young people show up at the polls to ensure that our voices are heard.
The 2020 election was important for many reasons. Nationally, we had the presidential election, and in Kentucky, one of our U.S. Senators, Mitch McConnell, was up for reelection against Democratic nominee Amy McGrath. Due to the pandemic, many were worried about how safe it would be to vote in-person, which has been the norm for our state. The Kentucky Secretary of State, Michael G. Adams did an outstanding job to ensure voting safety during the pandemic, and expanded absentee and in-person early voting to be sure Kentuckians were able to feel safe casting their vote. Vote Everywhere was lucky to have Secretary Adams join us for a virtual Q+A event during our Civic Engagement Extravaganza week. During Civic Engagement Week, we also had our annual celebration for National Voter Registration Day, which was held on September 22nd, 2020. We partnered with S.C.O.R.E and RaiseRed to increase our outreach. UofL was even featured on MSNBC, as I was interviewed to talk about how our voter registration efforts have adapted to the pandemic.
After the monumental 2020 election, Vote Everywhere shifted our focus to issue-based events that focused on topics that sparked passion within us that we wanted to share with other students. In October, we hosted “Your Vote is Your Voice/Su Voto es Su Voz”, which focused on the impact of voting and the importance of being civically engaged, specifically as people from Black and Latinx communities. We closed out the Fall 2020 semester with a Get Out the Vote event the day before Election Day where we gave out “Cards Vote” masks and made sure students were ready to vote.
In Spring of 2021, we continued to put on events rooted in passion. We hosted “Let’s Talk About: Banning Conversion Therapy” in early February, where we educated students on the issue of conversion therapy being practiced in Kentucky, and how they can make their voices heard by their legislators on this issue. To end the semester on a high note, Vote Everywhere is hosting a giveaway on our Instagram @uoflve, where five student winners will be receiving fun and educational prizes, each focused on a different human rights issue: Voting Rights, Black Lives Matter, Women’s Rights, LGBTQ+ Rights, and Immigrant Rights. Vote Everywhere is proud of the work we’ve been able to do to increase civic engagement on our campus. We are excited to see where the 2021-2022 year will bring us!
Wyn Garfinkle - VoteEverywhere Lead Ambassador
I’ll be honest, I get aggravated when I hear people say that their vote doesn’t matter.
They aren’t telling me anything I haven’t heard before. In fact, I have heard this phrase so many times that I have had to stop and consider for myself whether this was a valid point. But upon consideration of this perspective, I was reaffirmed why my vote and every single individual vote matters, and this is because no other person shares your exact identities, experiences, or points of view. Your vote is a reflection of who you are, where you’ve been, what you’ve seen, how you feel and think, what you expect from your government and most importantly, what kind of change you want to see in your community, your state, and your country.
As Election Day approached this year I prepared for the worst: complaints from people
that their votes didn’t matter, statements that they didn’t plan to vote, and that there was no need for them to. However, this Election Day, unlike the last I was pleasantly surprised by all of the passion, interest, and dedication I witnessed surrounding people voting, and their encouragement of others to vote as well. I was thrilled by this quasi-movement to “make voting cool” and for people to not only vote for their own self-interests, but in the best interests of others as well, because voting isn’t about creating a world that best suits yourself, but rather it is about creating a world best suited for the people around you so that we may co-exist, support one another, and be free to live lives that we are proud of. This Election season the Vote Everywhere program was capable of assisting in the creation of programs which allowed for easier voter registration, poll accessibility through transportation, and absentee ballot voting, but beyond these programs we were capable of engaging with students who not only voted, but were optimistic about voting, rather than pessimistic. It is these kinds of attitude about civic engagement that facilitates change, and I hope to see them perpetuated on UofL’s campus in the years to come.
Thus far, we’ve accomplished a few things in the name of civic involvement that are worth mentioning. To catch you up, we attended a Vote Everywhere conference this summer by the name of “National Civic Leadership Training Summit” in New Jersey. There, both Brittany and I had the opportunity to meet VE ambassadors from around the US and to learn more about how to better engage campus and our community in politics and government. We had an amazing time, made tons of friends, and Brittany even conducted a presentation about our large spring event held last year (Minds at Work) to the other ambassadors.
Just recently we completed our very first Civic Engagement Extravaganza. This consisted of 7-days of events held by different campus and community organizations all centered around civic engagement and using your voice as a citizen to make a difference in your community, and your country. VE partnered with SGA, the MLK Scholars Program, the campus NAACP group, the McConnell Scholars Program, the Women’s Center, and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth to produce this awesome week of events! Great times and free food were had by all. We rounded out the week with cookies, chips, and Vote Everywhere’s signature event: National Voter Registration Day! We registered students voters and answered tons of questions about voting, polling places, voter information, and how to get involved with civic engagement on campus. I hope you had the chance to stop by!
What’s next for VE? You can find that in our Campus Action Plan for the year ahead. Some topics we hope to tackle include:
Want to get involved, have any questions, or just wanna hang out with Brittany and I? Our first meeting to begin organizing volunteers is COMING SOON this October!! Stay tuned for the date, and stay pumped about making a difference through voting and exercising those first amendment rights.
Peace and love,
My name is Brittany Greenwell and I am one of the Ambassadors/Co-Directors of the University of Louisville Vote Everywhere Program! This is my second year in this position and I couldn’t be more excited to continue my work on civic engagement initiatives at UofL. I graduated with my Bachelor’s in Political Science from UofL in May, and I am currently a 1L (first year student) at UofL’s Brandeis School of Law (yikes, I know) with aspirations to pursue a career in the non-profit legal sector. In my free time I enjoy scoping out thrift stores (and TJ Maxx) for cheap finds, spending all of my hard-earned money on coffee, and going to concerts or “exploring” the city of Louisville
In my previous year as Vote Everywhere Ambassador I aided in the creation of the “Minds at Work” program which was a student-led showcase of local, state, and national issues for which UofL Vote Everywhere won the New Program of the Year Award. We hope to continue this program annually as a way to inform and engage young voters. In the upcoming year we are looking to create UofL’s first Civic Engagement Extravaganza – a week long program full of events centered around civic engagement.
Vote Everywhere is an amazing National, non-partisan program, but it cannot reach its full potential without the input and involvement of students from all different backgrounds who are interested in civic engagement - so I urge you to join us!! Feel free to contact either me or my Co-Director Clara Wilson with any questions! You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Vote Everywhere is a civic engagement program that incorporates ambassadors on college campuses across the nation for the purpose of effecting positive social change through voter education & registration and community involvement.
Vote Everywhere Lead Ambassador: Wyn Plymesser
Vote Everywhere Ambassador: Arianna Moya Porras