Students, Alums Get Out the Vote

With the 2020 presidential election weeks away, Alverno students and alums are mobilizing to get out the vote.

Our community-minded students practice their effective citizenship — one of Alverno’s 8 Abilities — in many different ways, including voting. In fact, Alverno has been named to Washington Monthly​’s​​ 2020 Best Colleges for Student Voting Honor Roll​ in honor of the fact that our 2018 student voting rate was 61%, well above the national average of 39.1%, and of students who are registered to vote, 82.2% took part in the 2018 midterm election.

As Alverno’s Campus Election Engagement Project Fellow, Lauren Tatum works to educate students about the voting process. “Things like how to register, where to vote, how to request an absentee ballot, which forms of ID can be used and how to vote if you’re from out of state all fall under my purview,” she says.

Tatum and fellow student Donna Lewis-Taylor are also supporting the nonpartisan Campus Vote Project. They aim to mobilize college students to serve as poll workers during a global pandemic that has made it difficult, if not dangerous, for senior citizens to perform this essential civic duty.

“As Alverno strong women, we CAN help solve this issue,” Lewis-Taylor urges her fellow students and alums as part of the Power to the Polls initiative. She also made a video to explain more.

According to Tatum, this work is paying off.

“As of Monday [Oct. 12, 2020], the City of Milwaukee received a record number of applications. There are now enough poll workers to power 173 of Milwaukee’s 180 polling places and the City has even closed its backup/alternate list,” she says.

Tatum also moderated an Alverno-sponsored panel discussion about voting rights. The soon-to-be Alverno graduate and mother says she brings her kids with her every time she votes to impress upon the importance of exercising this right.

“My motivation to vote is fueled by a strong desire to leave the world a better place than I found it,” she says.

Lewis-Taylor, who expects to graduate in 2021, is personally invested in ensuring free and fair elections.

“I am motivated to encourage my peers to vote and work the polls because our communities, especially Black and Brown, are at stake this election. This is the perfect opportunity to prevent an issue that can unfold on Election Day,” she says. “My passion to create a positive impact in my community is why I am committed to do the work.”

For some Alverno graduates, voter mobilization and community engagement is part of their jobs. As Voces de la Frontera’s youth organizing statewide director, Alejandra Gonzalez ’20 helps Wisconsin youth be civically engaged. For those who aren’t able to vote, whether it’s because they aren’t old enough or because they are undocumented, she encourages them to get involved in other ways.

“In the last year we have used combined efforts of protests, acts of solidarity and electoral power to enact change at local and statewide levels. That is what activism looks like to me, the act of voicing your concerns on the streets and in public community hearings. For those of us who can’t vote, it is the most powerful way to make a change,” she wrote in a recent opinion piece for the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service.

The Alverno Alumnae Engagement team is hosting a virtual community engagement panel on Wednesday, Oct. 21. Gonzalez and other Alverno alums will discuss their community service and share ideas for how you, too, can get involved. Click here to register.

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