Voter Registration Drive: “Pizza and Polls”

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“NH’s a small swing state so your vote really matters,” Abi Bradford of NextGen Climate told several NEC students over boxes and boxes of pizza and piles of stickers that read “climate is my candidate.”

This Voter Registration Drive was held at NEC on Wednesday, October 19thinside the Simon Great Room with Inez McDermott, the Director of Project Pericles and Co-Director for the Center for Community Engagement and Leadership, NextGen Climate, CiviCorps, and the Supervisor of the Checklist.

Supervisor of the Checklist, Anne Gould, a resident of Henniker who worked in NEC’s mailroom for 30 years, registered students to vote, along with her daughter, Ryan Gould, and friend, Laurie Marko.  These three woman, who were positioned at the head a table, were provided an ID, or a sworn affidavit (piece of paper swearing to an individual’s identity), and recorded students’ names.  The line was never long, though attendance was high.

Gould who’s held this elected position for the past 36 consecutive years, said, “I enjoy it. I enjoy seeing people and I like to see everything done properly.”

McDermott, who’s been working with TurboVote to register students, had first begun planning this drive while NextGen Climate was simultaneously planning their own.  So NEC’s Area Coordinator of Resident Life and Housing, Graziano DiCiaula, set up McDermott with Abi Bradford, NEC’s NextGen Liaison and they combined their efforts.

NextGen is an organization that seeks to prevent climate disaster, and uphold prosperity for all, through political action.  Bradford and NextGen’s State Director, Clark Lee, asked students if they’d sign “commitment to vote” forms, as studies have shown signing such a commitment significantly increases the likelihood that a person will actually vote.

Bradford, who’s from Maine, and is also the liaison to NHTI, said that NextGen is on 13 or 14 campuses in NH right now because, “millennials (born between the 80’s and the 2000’s) are the largest block of voters, and projections say 83% would vote in favor of climate change.”

NextGen is currently focused on rallying youth voters in swing states: New Hampshire, Nevada, California, Illinois, Iowa, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.  According to the organization, “91% of millennials want to transition to clean energy,” and as they’re 69.2 million strong, have the power to swing the election in their favor.

Population estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau made in April of 2016 supported these numbers. But Richard Fry, of PewResearchCenter, reported that although “millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation,” it’s only by about a half a million. So in order to swing the election tide, we all have to go out and vote.

Senior Anthony Boame, a member of CiviCorps, a student organization upholding civic engagement that organizes and hosts events like these, said voting “is our civic duty.”  But unfortunately, he said, “The only way more people would vote would be if the government would take that right away.”

In order to encourage students to register, Boame said, “We wanted to keep it simple: pizza and polls.”

To show their support of one another and the event, the entire NEC dance-team, STARS (sophisticated-talented-athletic-responsible-scholars), was in attendance. STARS member, Sophomore Harmony Jones, said it was important for all young people to get out and vote in this election “so we don’t get screwed over,” and Freshman dance-team member Christina Sanders believes not enough young people are taking the election as seriously as they should.

Captain, Freshman Deshawna Green, explained that they all came out together because one of their dance members wanted them to make sure they registered to vote.

She said, “We made a pact to do things together: if one does it, we all do.”

Bradford said the whole reason she cares so much about this political election is because “we are very much nearing the point of no return,” in regard to global warming.  She explained, “I’m doing it because Donald Trump claims climate change is a hoax.”

No matter what your particular affiliations are politically, voting makes your voice count, and registering to vote is the first step. If you don’t vote, you certainly won’t swing the election on November 8th.  If you’re ready to vote on that day, shuttles will be here to make it easier.

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