The Fall 2021 semester was my first semester serving as one of the Vote Everywhere Co-Ambassadors. This semester was a bit daunting as we attempted to bring a sense of normalcy back to on-campus events; however, I am confident that our program provided safe and enjoyable experiences for UofL’s students to the best of our ability. Even as the Fall term is drawing to a close, Vote Everywhere is finishing out the semester strong with one final event and continued planning for exciting events in the works for the Spring.
This week, Vote Everywhere hosted a ‘Recharge & Register’ event where students were able to grab a donut and hot chocolate while discussing voter registration. We were able to connect with dozens of students on campus and allow them a space to register, as well as update their registration information if they were already registered. Even though it is not a general election year in Kentucky, it is still important to stay civically engaged and aware of your voter registration status. Students can use our website bit.ly/cardsvote or reach out to us personally at firstname.lastname@example.org with any further questions.
Next semester, we are looking forward to hosting more educational events to spread information about the importance of primaries, as well as a documentary screening during Black History Month to highlight voter disenfranchisement and civic engagement. Students who are interested in learning more about Vote Everywhere are invited to follow our Instagram @uoflve for event updates and volunteer opportunities!
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
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,
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.
Colby Edwards and