USG Partners With Every Vote Counts


Over 20 people registered to vote and 40 applied for absentee ballots at last month's first tabling (Courtesy of Leila Wicher).

By Joe Esposito

Over 20 people registered to vote and 40 applied for absentee ballots at last month’s first tabling (Courtesy of Leila Wicher).

Earlier this semester, the United Student Government (USG) partnered with Every Vote Counts Fordham, an official chapter of the national organization that seeks to increase voter turnout and make voting easier for U.S. citizens. The national organization began a little over a year ago at Yale University.

Tyler Cremins, FCRH ’20, president of Fordham’s chapter, said the focus of the group is on voter engagement.

“We are a non-partisan organization committed to voter engagement, voter access, voter education and attacking voter suppression in New York State,” he said.

Every Vote Counts Fordham, a student-run, non-partisan group, is still in the process of becoming an official club. They club has worked with USG since the summer, according to the vice president of the chapter, Leila Witcher, FCRH ’20. Their partnership with USG helps them retain space for group activities, advertise their outlets and lend assistance for their programs. Connor Sullivan, FCRH ’19, president of USG, said he felt the partnership was vital.

“When Kaylee and I ran, one of our platform items was focusing on voter registration and voter turnout,” he said. “College students are a key demographic for elections and we feel that it is our duty as the student government to promote the benefits of voting since it is an issue that affects student life. That is why USG partnered with Every Vote Counts,” he said.

Goals for the Fordham chapter include assisting students with voter registration and sending their absentee ballots directly to campus, according to Witcher. Increasing voter turnout is another goal, according to Cremins.

Every Vote Counts Fordham started its work this semester. It held its first tabling event on Sept. 25, where over 20 people registered to vote and 40 people applied for absentee ballots, according to Witcher. She noted how some difficulty has surrounded the process of voting.

“Some students don’t register for absentee ballots because they feel the process is discouraging,” she said.

Every Vote Counts Fordham is working to make this process easier. At their tabling event, they had computers set up where students could request an absentee ballot application.

“Our goal is to remove any obstacles that students feel may prevent them from having their voice heard,” said Witcher.

They also helped students register to vote online by guiding them through the process and answering their questions. For example, Witcher noted that students had questions regarding which address, either home or the Bronx, to register with. This depends on where exactly you want to vote. Since students who live on Fordham’s campus are offered permanent resident status, they can vote in the Bronx if they wish to.

The group also held a “blitzweek” from Oct. 8 to Oct.12, where they tabled in McGinley from 12 to 4 p.m. each day. This week was focused on registering people to vote and encouraging them to formally take the pledge to vote, according to Cremins.

Students also had the opportunity to bring their signed absentee ballot application that week. Representatives of the group provided envelopes and stamps and helped them mail out the form.

Many students were already registered to vote, according to Witcher.

“It was very encouraging to hear how many students were registered,” she said.

With many students registered, she and her group focused on working with students to obtain their absentee ballots or going to the polls.

Every Vote Counts Fordham also plans on holding an event approximately a week before the election, which is on Nov. 6. At this event, people can bring their completed ballots and drop them off. The group would then send out their ballots for students.

Ninety million eligible voters stayed home in the 2016 election, according to Every Vote Counts. Closer to election day, Every Vote Counts Fordham hopes to get the word out to remind people to vote.

Every Vote Counts Fordham is also in contact with Ram Van. They are considering having shuttles to bus people to and from the polls. Cremins also hopes the idea can extend to the greater Belmont community as well and provide them with the same transportation.

Finally, Every Vote Counts Fordham has some post-election goals. First, they hope to pursue their goal of civic engagement through an outreach to high school students in the Belmont community. They hope to form a voters’ education course to engage these future American voters.

“We are working on creating civic engagement for the broader Belmont community to affect change on a larger scale,” said Cremins.

Additionally, they hope to conduct research regarding issues such as voter suppression laws and political gerrymandering. Because these things happen at a national and state level, the group hopes to work toward combating these issues as well.

“Our goal is to remove any obstacles that students feel may prevent them from having their voice heard,” said Witcher.

Amidst all this work, Every Vote Counts Fordham remains non-partisan.

“We do not want to tell people who to vote for, we just want to tell them to vote,” said Witcher.