As Election Day draws near, Daemen College has launched a college-wide effort, “Get Civically Fit at Daemen,” to promote voter registration, provide information on the voting process, and to help boost voting among students, faculty, and staff.
Voter registration stations and kiosks, which will follow Daemen’s COVID-19 protocols for the health and safety of the college community, will be set up around campus in September and October to encourage members of the college community to register to vote. The first of the on-campus registration stations are scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 21 and 25 outside of the Wick Campus Center (under a tent located near the building).
“There is no greater responsibility than to vote and it is one of the most important civic responsibilities we have to exercise our political power,” said Dr. Lisa Parshall, professor of political science, who is overseeing the voting initiative. “By having a physical presence on-campus for this effort, it will underscore to the Daemen community the importance of voting and provide the opportunity to register to vote and ask questions about the process.”
The “Get Civically Fit” initiative is being spearheaded by the Daemen History and Political Science departments in collaboration with the college’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), the Division of Institutional Advancement, and the Division of Student Affairs. On-campus voter registration stations will be staffed by SAAC representatives who have been trained to assist the college community on the voter registration process. They will also be stationed in the Athletic Academic Services area, where they will instruct students, faculty, and staff on registering to vote and how to complete absentee ballots.
“Our student-athletes have been vocal about their desire to affect positive change. One of the earliest initiatives they identified was the education of their fellow students about the voting process,” said Traci Murphy, director of athletics. “I am proud of our student-athletes for turning their words into action, and they have found a tremendous partner in Dr. Lisa Parshall and the Daemen History and Political Science departments, as well as other collaborative divisions on campus. The ‘Get Civically Fit’ campaign is a wonderful example of what can be achieved when people are united toward a common goal.”
In addition to the on-campus registration stations, Daemen has created a “Get Civically Fit” website that provides information on ways to register online, registering through the DMV, options for voting, how to become an Election Day poll worker, and more. Election reforms are also giving voters more opportunities to vote, which are included in the college-wide initiative. For example, New York State recently made absentee voting more expansive and easier to vote to now include the option to vote by mail rather than in-person due to the pandemic.
The “Get Civically Fit” institution-wide initiative fits into one of Daemen’s core values on informed civic engagement. Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to take an active, engaged role in their community, making the voter registration effort a timely and practical example of civic engagement in action in the college community.
According to Parshall, college students and young adults are considered one of the most influential voting groups in the country.
“Historically, college students vote at a much lower rate than other demographic groups,” said Parshall. “Many college students believe that their vote doesn’t matter in an election. However, if the college demographic showed a strong representation in voting, they could change the U.S. political landscape.”