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ND Votes to celebrate Voter Registration Day with festival event

| Monday, September 24, 2018

ND Votes will be celebrating Notre Dame’s National Voter Registration Day with a festival event Monday evening at the Geddes Hall Coffee House and patio. The celebration is open to anyone, and it is the culmination of a week-long voter registration drive the ND Votes task force organized.

“[The event will be] American-themed, with apple pie, lemonade, music and a celebration of something that is as American as you can do, which is voting,” junior Sheila Gregory, director of community outreach in the ND Votes task force, said.

The event will include opportunities to register to vote, request absentee ballots and sign up for election reminders. Students and faculty will also present information on how Notre Dame voted in the 2016 election, which is first time the results will be publicly announced.

“It will be really interesting to not only have a fun celebration of voting, but also give students more information about the trends — especially for first-years who are brand-new to the political process — about how their school voted,” Gregory said.

The ND Votes task force is also responsible for the week-long voter registration drive, which began Sept. 18. To celebrate, the task force set up tables outside the dining halls and in the student centers, Gregory said, and created a competition between dorms to see which ones could get the most voters registered and the most absentee ballots. The prize for the winning dorm is $500 and a free breakfast on Nov. 6, the day of the midterm elections.

“[We are] doing this voter registration competition … to make it more fun,” Gregory said. “It’s hard to jazz-up getting everyone absentee ballots. We are hoping that through offering some prize money and food, we can incentivize people to get their absentee ballots, which is super easy.”

The ND Votes task force is a non-partisan group whose mission is voter registration, education and mobilization, according to the ND Votes website. It is made up of interested students who either apply through their dorm or a club in which they are involved. Clubs like the College Democrats and College Republicans, Right to Life, the Student Coalition for Immigration Advocacy (SCIA), Diversity Council and more are all involved in the ND Votes task force, which was revived in 2016 for the presidential election after a period of inactivity.

“[ND Votes] was supposed to be a three-semester effort,” Gregory said. “It started in the spring semester of 2016. After the presidential election, everyone on every side was extremely interested in politics. We were like, ‘We can’t just let this energy go to waste,’ so we continued to have the task force.”

Junior Steven Higgins, another member of the ND Votes task force, said that energy contributed to a growing engagement in ND Votes.

“In the last four or five years, we have seen this growth of ND Votes that has been pretty tremendous,” Higgins said. “I remember my freshman year there were not that many of us. There were four or five of us meeting in this little room in the bottom of Geddes, and now we are in the Geddes coffee house and we have to have overflow tables because there is not enough seating.”

ND Votes has begun to expand past Notre Dame’s campus, Higgins said. The task force partnered with the League of Women Voters, a non-partisan group located in South Bend. These two groups are jointly putting on an event Sept. 25 that will focus on registering South Bend locals to vote.

“Seeing the level of engagement with voting and the process of getting people registered to vote has been incredibly encouraging,” Higgins said. “And that is what the event in Geddes today is about — a celebration of voting [and] civic engagement. We are just going to be having a ton of food and some entertainment to just get people excited about [voting]. We’re hoping that as many people as possible come out.”

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