Brock the Vote Takes on Midterms
The Office of Community Development's Brock the Vote campaign continues to expand in its fourth year.
November 6 is Election Day in America. Control of Congress, in addition to a myriad of state and local elections, will be at stake. SUNY Brockport is working to "Brock the Vote" — an initiative that focuses on helping our students become engaged citizens by helping them register to vote and educating them on candidates.
Associate Director of Community Development Kim Piatt is once again leading the initiative, which was launched during the 2016 Presidential Election. The program's success has helped Brockport become recognized as a "Voter Friendly Campus" for the last two years. The Office of Community Development is hoping to build on that success and further engage students in the democratic process.
"Our campaign uses tabling events around campus, classroom visits, and programs in the Union and Residence halls to help spread awareness for election season," Piatt said. "Our newest initiative involves a partnership with the Monroe County Board of Elections through their Election Fellows (MCEF) Program."
The MCEF program recruits two students from each associated institute (one Republican and one Democrat) who are tasked with not only engaging students in the democratic process as voters, but recruiting them as election inspectors too. The College's election fellows for 2018 are Sam Dicano (D) and Jack Merritt (R). Together, they recruited about 60 students as election inspectors to assist with tasks like handing out ballots and helping voters with disabilities on Election Day.
"The initiative hopes to not only bring in more volunteers, but specifically younger volunteers to help make young voters feel comfortable while voting," Dicano said. "Since coming to campus in August, we have been recruiting students as inspectors, which often includes registering them to vote in Monroe County."
For many students living on campus, their current address is listed as their family home, often outside of Monroe County. Election fellows can only help students register to vote if they live in Monroe County, so in order to make this possible, they encourage students to change their address to campus. This makes it easier for students to vote during the semester. Although, there is another long-term benefit for students using the College as their permanent address.
"If we can get enough people to register their address on campus, we can possibly get the College to become a polling site," Dicano said. "I believe that if the College were a polling site, we would see a large spike in students voting due to it being much more accessible."
In total, Community Development managed to help around 700 students register to vote before New York's October 12 deadline. While registration has passed, the "Brock the Vote" campaign is far from over.
"We are now in the phase of voter education for our campus where we equip our students with the tools to learn more about contemporary issues and various candidates," Piatt said. "We were able to bring two candidates for the House of Representatives, Joe Morelle and Jim Maxwell, to campus this semester."
The College continues to strive toward creating an environment where its students can engage in their civic duties. The College is participating in nation wide initiatives including in the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge and National Association of Student Personnel Administrator's (NASPA) Lead Initiative, promoting civic learning and democratic engagement across campus.