Saint Mary's Women Vote
By Gina Twardosz '20
Rebekah DeLine, director of the Office of Civic and Social Engagement (OCSE) and Annie Maguire ’20, student worker in OCSE, have made it their mission to create a nonpartisan campaign that would engage as many students as possible at the start of the fall semester. And this work has since paid off. The OCSE received an Election Engagement Grant from Indiana Campus Compact, in partnership with the Campus Election Engagement Project.
Research from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University found that 31 percent of young people, age 18 to 29, voted in this midterm election cycle — 10 percent higher than in 2014.
Leading up to the midterm elections, DeLine and Annie created SMCVotes, a campus voting initiative, which sponsored 29 events, from registering students to vote with the help of incentives like puppies and concerts and provided information about the voting process. DeLine along with Annie and a number of other student workers offered assistance for students seeking absentee ballots.
DeLine and Annie organized SMCVotes because they cared about students’ individual right to vote.
“We both feel very passionately about voting and voting rights, especially since we haven’t had them for far too long as women,” Annie said.
OCSE had four main focuses for this midterm election year: voter registration, voter education, voter participation, and participation in other off-campus or non-partisan election events. Their voter education efforts included Lunch and Learns on campus and off-campus events with transportation provided by OCSE if necessary.
Annie feels that voting is about creating a better future, and the women of Saint Mary’s should take advantage of their voting rights to ensure their voices are heard.
“I think it’s really important for students to recognize that the impact is happening right now and in their immediate future,” she said. “If they don’t participate in the electoral process, they’re leaving that to others who may not have the same opinions as them, the same education as them, or the same values as them.”
The OCSE seeks to engage as many women of different majors, interests, and backgrounds as possible, and part of facilitating voter education, and encouraging young women to vote has a lot to do with providing support for those students who may be voting for the first time.
“Engaging in our election process is not something we can do every four years and then step away from, as it has to be sustained somehow,” Annie said. “That’s been the vision and mission of [SMCVotes]”