Lafayette Votes! wants you to go to the polls

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Lafayette Votes! recently hosted a talk by Matthew Koos, the executive director of the Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee. (Photo courtesy of Dylan Gooding ‘23)

Primary and midterm elections typically see lower voter turnout than presidential elections, especially among college students. Lafayette Votes! is hoping to change that trend, encouraging students to get out and vote in the Pennsylvania Primary Election on May 17.

“What happens in local politics really does influence what happens on the national stage,” Chelsea Morrese, Landis Center for Community Engagement Director said. She explained that people often do not pay attention to important issues in elections until they make national news.

This is not the first time the organization has made an effort to help students perform their civic duty. Before Morrese founded Lafayette Votes!, less than 50% of Lafayette’s student body voted. During the program’s inaugural fall 2020 semester, the organization helped increase Lafayette College voting turnout to 82.9% of the student body.

“[Lafayette Votes!] was created in response to a need, and to a political and social crisis. We don’t want to let it go. We want to keep going with it,” Morrese said. “We want to continue to have Lafayette campus be known as one of the most politically engaged campuses in the country.” 

Historically, college students have not been eager to go to the polls. Only 44.5% of Lafayette College students voted in the 2016 election, and less than 33.9% voted in the 2012 election. 

“It’s especially important that young people vote because they’re really quite literally the future of the country, or the future of the decision making and the policy making that are going to guide the direction of the country,” Morrese said.

“The voices of the younger generations aren’t…being considered in policy making,” she continued. 

The coalition is made up of multiple student organizations, including the Kirby Government & Law Society, Women in Law and Student Government. They have been responsible for debate watch parties, voter registration tables and classroom presentations about the importance of voting in different elections and where to find voting resources. Additionally, Lafayette Votes! is associated with the national organization ALL IN To Vote and is pending approval to be a part of the Campus Vote Project.

“Our biggest goal is just to give people the information that they need to make the choice at the polls that is the right choice for them,” Moresse said. “We don’t want to influence that in any way, but we want to make sure that you have what you need to be able to do that.”

“We just want to be seen as an organization purely for the purposes of getting you to vote,” the organization’s Student Director Dylan Gooding ’23 said. “We really don’t care who you vote for. I don’t care, Chelsea doesn’t care. No one cares who you vote for, all we care about is that you do.”

Lafayette Votes! will be hosting a reception on May 3 for existing and interested members. 

Interested students can contact Morrese at [email protected] or Gooding at [email protected]