PSU Votes Remains Dedicated To Civic Engagement Despite Pandemic’s Challenges

With just 18 days until Election Day, PSU Votes is working harder than ever to help students get registered to vote.

PSU Votes is a non-partisan organization founded based to help register college students and get them to the polls. The organization, which is branched off of the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA), is at one of its most defining moments leading up to Election Day.

Despite moving most events online, PSU Votes is operating similarly to how it would in non-pandemic years.

In the past few months, the organization has created a PSU Votes roundtable, hosted Lt. Governor John Fetterman for a virtual lecture, and is currently running a voter registration clinic outside the HUB until October 19.

Individuals involved with PSU Votes, such as UPUA at-large Representative Tom Dougherty, are taking every chance they get to encourage students to register to vote. On his walks home from campus, Dougherty often stops community members and asks them if they’re registered and offers to help.

“Whenever you have 46,000 other voters with you, then what I would consider a rally,” Dougherty said. “And I truly believe that Penn State students can turn the election around this year. I think the stakes are just so much higher for college students this election.”

UPUA recently allocated $750 of its budget to PSU Votes so it could work in tandem to increase student civic engagement with an app called Motivote. Through Motivote, students can earn points for being civically engaged and even win prizes.

UPUA representative and PSU Votes co-chair Noah Robertson said the organization works to increase civic engagement in students alongside other organizations like Lion Caucus, the Office of Student Affairs, and the Center for Character, Conscience, and Public Purpose.

“For first-time Penn State student voters, I would encourage them to access our Motivote page,” Robertson said. “Then, I would suggest they generally stay updated on what’s happening in the news and really engage themselves with those touchstones of citizenship and democracy such as registering to vote and actually turning out to vote in this election.”

Students who are not part of PSU Votes can still play a large part in helping register voters and shape the elections to come. Historically, midterm elections have significantly lower voter turnout than general elections. PSU Votes wants to change that.

“PSU Votes is trying to change the fact that we’ve kind of focused a lot more in the past on the general election,” Dougherty said. “Primary elections in Pennsylvania are incredibly important. The midterms in November are very important. It’s important that students know this even though we are actually not at school for the primaries.”

PSU Votes knows the importance of this election to students and has worked to make sure students are supported no matter the outcome. UPUA and CAPS are making sure therapists are available in the days following the election for those who may need to speak about how they are affected.

Speaking to first-time voters, Dougherty and Robertson both stressed the importance of students doing their individual research and making a voting plan.

“It’s just that plain and simple,” Dougherty said. “Do your research. Make sure you’re registered. And also make sure that you’re able to get your ballots. If you have to make a voting plan, make a voting plan and go with other people.”

Pennsylvanians can register to vote until Monday, October 19 and request mail-in or absentee ballots until October 27.

To learn more about voting in Centre County and at Penn State, check out our comprehensive guide.

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About the Author

Sasha Kalika

Sasha is a junior majoring in Public Relations and Labor Employment Relations. She is from New York City. She is very passionate about Penn State and will shout We Are... at you if you see her walking backwards on campus. She is also a huge fan of dogs and has two Yorkies and a Pomsky. If you would like to see her dogs or have any questions send an email to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @sashakalika1.

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