From dawn till dusk on Nov. 3, ShipVotes volunteers worked to help Shippensburg University student voters get to the polls to cast their votes.
ShipVotes, a non-partisan coalition, worked to get students registered to vote and inform students of their options for Election Day.
Student and faculty volunteers visited University 101 classes to talk about voter registration, registered students at tables in the Ceddia Union Building (CUB) and raised awareness about mail-in and absentee ballots in preparation for the 2020 presidential election.
On Election Day, ShipVotes set up tables to greet students at an on-campus bus stop to help direct SU students to the Vigilant Hose Fire Co. polling station. The coalition worked with SU Student Affairs Vice President Barry McClanahan to coordinate their efforts at the bus stops on Election Day, according to Eyoel Delessa, a ShipVotes faculty lead. Michael Duignan, CUB executive director secured a bus from Wolf’s Bus Lines, a private transportation company, which also provided transportation in the evening.
Delessa said officials provided transportation from 7 a.m.-8 p.m., with around 100 students riding the bus to the polls. Fewer students took buses to the polls than in previous years, however, Delessa said this is because many students drove themselves, went home to vote or used mail-in and absentee ballots.
In 2016, 68% of the student population got out to vote and ShipVotes expects this year’s turnout to be much higher, according to Delessa. He said the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement (NSLVE) from Tufts University will provide the statistics of SU’s student voter turnout. The information will be made available on the ShipVotes’ website ship.edu/life/resources/shipvotes/.
A table outside of the CUB had ShipVotes volunteers — both students and faculty — throughout the day. ShipVotes provided hot chocolate, water and snacks for students on the windy, brisk day.
At the polling place, Katy Clay, retired SU history professor and founder of ShipVotes, along with other faculty volunteers greeted student voters and helped student voters with questions or concerns.
Clay had training from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Election Protection Program “just to make sure students who were voting, if they faced any issues or had any problems, had a resource at the polling site to talk to someone to get information and get help,” Delessa said.
ShipVotes also had student volunteers helping out on Election Day in which students could connect.
Siara Gutierrez, Ian Coyne, Kristin Zellner and Ninal Mitchelle were the core group of student volunteers for ShipVotes and did “tremendous work” on behalf of the coalition, Delessa said. Coyne and Mitchelle are two of the fellows for the Campus Election Engagement Project (CEEP) and were student leaders and organizers for ShipVotes, Delessa said.
Gutierrez and Coyne set up at the CUB and attended it in the morning with Delessa. Nina Mitchelle, although working remotely, led their online social media campaign to prepare for Election Day.
When asked what the student volunteers bring to ShipVotes, Gutierrez said it is the student perspective.
“We know what’s going on, we know what students are struggling with when it comes to voting,” Gutierrez said.
Even in non-election years, ShipVotes works to get students registered to vote and spread voter information. By looking at the statistics they receive, people will be able to show the impact ShipVotes work has had on the campus, Delessa said.
“We went all out, and hopefully it had a positive impact,” Delessa said.