Discussion around voting often focuses on Election Day. However, an important component of that process happens before actually voting – the whole procedure, in reality, begins with registration. In order to fully take advantage of the privilege to vote, citizens must make sure they have properly registered to cast a ballot.
The Feminist Majority Foundation is one such organization that is encouraging all to register to vote. The Feminist Majority Foundation was founded in 1987 as an organization dedicated to defending women’s rights; in particular, the organization advocates for the specific issues of reproductive health and non-violence. In addition to participating in research, public policy development, public education programs, leadership training and development programs, the organization also takes part in, and actually organizes, forums discussing women’s equality and empowerment.
One of the Feminist Majority Foundation’s most recent campaigns is the “Equality Votes Campaign,” which aspires to increase voter participation on college campuses. The campaign hires college students to help educate their peers and encourage voting in key swing states; it is also an equal opportunity employer, meaning that members of minority communities and those with disabilities suffer no disadvantage in the hiring process on account of their protected class status. These campus organizers set up online Get Out the Vote (GOTV) events, all while managing a robust and dedicated volunteer force. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the campaign has largely been focusing on building their social media presence in order to keep students informed during this critical time. The @eqvotesbucknell Instagram account, for instance, posts infographics about the importance of voting and how to register to vote, as well as student testimonials about why they are voting or why it is important to them.
Kate McGrath ’21 is one of the organizers of the Equality Votes Campaign; McGrath has been charged with running the group’s University-oriented Instagram page. McGrath described discovering the position through Equality Votes coordinator Delia Hughes ’21, whom she met during one of their shared Women and Gender Studies courses.
“I was immediately interested in the position because it was a great way to get involved on campus and in the election. I think that it is really important to vote especially in this election. My goal is to get as many people involved as possible and registered to vote,” McGrath said.
Hughes shares McGrath’s zeal. “I went to a feminist leadership conference during my sophomore year in Washington, D.C., so I’ve stayed in touch with the organization. Earlier this semester they reached out to me as they are working with equality votes to get young people mobilized to vote on college campuses, especially in swing states like PA,” Hughes said.
As coordinator for the equality votes campaign, Hughes directs the other members of her team in working to get students at the University more informed about the election and successfully registered to vote. As mentioned before, one of the ways Hughes and her team hope to inspire this change is through a large social media presence; in addition, the equality votes campaign at the University plans tabling sessions around campus and other events throughout the semester.
“I’m passionate about education and giving people language to understand their experience and the systems in place that impact their lives. This job was an awesome opportunity to help get Bucknell students involved and potentially make a difference,” Hughes said.
A recent series by the University’s Equality Votes Instagram page focuses on student voters, who explain why this right remains important to them and the issues they care about. Tori Bartlett ’21, for instance, votes because she recognizes the privilege behind such a right. “Not everyone has the privilege to vote. I know that some people don’t have the privilege to vote so it is important that I act on my right to do so for myself and those whose voices are not heard,” she says.
Coco Sachs ’21 also recognizes the importance of this right, especially as a woman in the United States. “Women were only given the right to vote 100 years ago. I exercise this privilege to serve those who remain impacted by voting barriers, which are perpetuated by systemic inequalities of today’s democracy,” Sachs said.
Haley Cooper ’21 emphasizes the importance of youth turnout in swinging an election. “Our generation potentially has the biggest impact on the outcome of this election,” Cooper said. “I want to be a part of the change that influences the election in a positive way.”
The Equality Votes Campaign can be spotted tabling around campus and also reached via their Instagram account @eqvotesbucknell. From both the equality votes group and your friends at The Bucknellian, make sure to get registered and vote.