Editor’s Note: Crystal Ramirez is a former Associate News Editor for The Observer.
SMC Votes hosted ‘Rock the Vote’, Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in Belle’s Backyard. The event featured voting resources, treats and live entertainment. Bellacapella and the Pearl performed while attendees requested region specific voting information and voted for the Most Popular Dog on Campus.
Rock the vote was an event created “to increase voter engagement and celebrate democracy,” SMC Votes co-coordinator Libbey Detcher said. The live music, furry friends, and numerous resources fostered a welcoming environment for people to come and get information on voter registration and requesting absentee ballots.
“[Rock the Vote is] a positive way to bring people together. I feel like a lot of people in our generation are passive, but if you want change you’re going to have to actively work for it and voting is one way you can do that,” sophomore McKenzie McDaniel said.
SMC Votes is an initiative under the Office for the Common Good. “[SMC Votes helps students with] registering to vote, requesting absentee ballots or making some kind of voting plan,” Detcher explained.
Founded in 2018, SMC Votes has worked diligently to improve the civic engagement of the student body. “SMC Votes started in 2018 after we realized our voter registration and voter participation rates were really below national averages,” Director of the Office for the Common Good Rebekah Go recounted.
With an issue at hand, Go and the Office of the Common Good immediately took action under the new initiative. “We started making concerted efforts to get students engaged in the process [by] helping them register and figure out how to vote, which is complicated because absentee ballot wielding is not streamlined at all,” Go said.
Since 2018, SMC Votes has made “significant strides” in increasing voter registration and participation with around a “30% increase” according to Go. The ultimate goal is to reach 100% of eligible voter participation at the college.
“We’re trying to get students excited about the electoral process and this fall’s midterm elections,” Go said as she reminded students that “their voice matters”. The two clubs featured at the event, the Saint Mary’s College Democrats and the Saint Mary’s College Political Science Club, provide students with a way to get involved with the field of politics in addition to exercising their right to vote.
“We are an official chapter of the statewide College Democrats of Indiana and we are here to represent and get more engagement. [As] a brand new club here at Saint Mary’s [we are] looking to build community and are excited for the semester,” President of the Saint Mary’s College Democrats Crystal Ramirez detailed.
SMC Votes plans to host numerous events throughout the year including mobile voting, constitution day and educational events in the spring. “We are planning on hosting debate watches for district two on Oct. 4, and it’s just for students to come if they want to watch the debate, do their homework, de-stress, chill out, or whatever they want,” SMC Votes co-coordinator Jeanett Ochoa said.
Students should contact the Office for the Common Good at firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by the Student Center for more information on voting and getting registered to vote.
“Everybody just wants their voice to be heard and I think voting is one way that everyone can come together for some kind of common cause,” Detcher said.