Jack Magner ’23
After two weeks of voter registration efforts, the Davidson Votes initiative kicked off its early voting shuttle service last Friday and will continue transporting students to Cornelius Town Hall to participate in the 2020 primaries over the next two weeks. Early voting for the North Carolina primary will continue until Saturday, February 29th.
The Davidson Votes initiative is all the more important during this election cycle, as the North Carolina primaries will take place on Tuesday, March 3rd, over Davidson’s spring break. Cornelius Town Hall, Davidson’s closest early voting site, is a mile and a half from campus—a significant distance to travel for any student without a car.
Davidson Votes, founded this year by Center for Political Engagement (CPE) Chair Joe DeMartin ’21 and College Democrats President Cutler Renard ’20, is a campus-wide initiative to register voters and promote active democratic participation among the Davidson student body. One of their first projects is making sure every student who wants to participate in the North Carolina primary has the opportunity.
Davidson Votes hopes to increase student participation in elections by making voting more accessible. DeMartin emphasized,“We want to make sure that people actually turn out to vote.”
Renard emphasized the importance of having a broad coalition to support Davidson Votes. Ten student organizations back the initiative, from CPE and College Democrats, to Turner House and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. SGA helped to compile available drivers for the shuttles and members of College Republicans and Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) helped with voter registration.
Davidson Votes also wants professors and administrators to play an active role in facilitating the voting process on campus. Plans include promoting voter registration during orientation and hall meetings so that incoming first years can vote more easily, as well as encouraging professors to highlight the importance of voting to their students. “The whole idea is to keep looking for opportunities where we can help students vote,” Renard said.
Several students made use of Friday’s first round of shuttles. Julia Bauer ’23 was pleased with her experience and with Davidson Votes as a whole. “I was very impressed by the Davidson shuttle system. Including travel time, the whole process took about forty minutes,” Bauer said. “Since I do not have a car on campus, I likely would not have voted had the shuttle service not been provided.”
Nada Shoreibah ’23 and Ruby Nguyen ’22 also took the shuttle on Friday and were complementary. “I think it’s great that the initiative is making it more accessible and convenient for students to vote,” Shoreibah shared.
“It shows that no matter where your ideology lies, Davidson students prioritize the importance of increasing voter participation above all. The entire initiative encourages people to take part in a system that would not work without them and reminds us that we have a voice,” Nguyen said.
The shuttle service is continuing throughout the next week, with the next available trips at 1:00, 2:30, and 4:00 on Sunday, February 23rd. All other shuttle times can be found here. The last day to vote early in Mecklenburg County is Saturday, February 29th. Early Voting sites also offer same-day registration, so anyone who is not currently registered to vote can still vote early in the North Carolina primary.
Through a wide variety of shuttle times, Davidson Votes hopes to streamline the voting process for students. “We want to give students as many opportunities as possible, especially because their schedules are so busy,” explained Renard.