What is Shenandoah Votes?
Shenandoah Votes, formerly known as UVote, is a nonpartisan, student-run organization in which students help their peers register to vote.
Shenandoah Votes helps students learn about how people register to vote, become involved in the fight to get more young people to register and to vote during all elections that this country holds, and to make lifelong friends and connections.
How do I sign up?
To learn more about The UVote Project, visit www.uvoteproject.org.
You can also visit our student-generated blog to learn more about Shenandoah Votes!
UVote at the Active Citizens Conference 2015
Promoting Civic Engagement: UVote
By Ellie Manspile
Citizen engagement has never been more crucial for the millennial generation. Today, there is a common misconception that millennials are lazy and apathetic when it comes to politics. But, organizations like The UVote Project are working to change this perception by giving college students a voice through a simple yet important action: registering to vote.
The UVote Project aims to increase voter registration on campuses by registering students at school-mandated events. On campuses where UVote operates, voter registration often triples. All it takes is the question, “Are you registered to vote?” In 2011, 89% of incoming freshman registered to vote at Northwestern University during their orientation program.
As of 2015, the “Millennial” generation outnumbered the baby boomers. Nationwide, millennials compromise nearly 40% of the voting population and in some areas, such as Williamsburg, VA, they make up even more than that. But, in most midterm elections, millennial voter-turnout rates average around 20% and in the 2012 Presidential election, only about 40% of 18-24 year olds voted.
On February 20, 2016, The College William & Mary hosted the Active Citizens Conference. Various workshops ranging from Healthy Beginnings for Pregnant Inmates to #ThinkBeforeYouPost provided insight to students about civic engagement. Cody Wiley and Emmy Jo McGuire from Shenandoah University and Kendra Alexander from Northwestern University hosted a session on The UVote Project.
The UVote Project model is effective on college campuses for many reasons. First, it uses the personal relationship approach, which allows students to both register to vote and get to know the student volunteers. Second, it is entirely student run, which promotes leadership. Lastly, UVote fosters relationships between campuses such as Shenandoah and Northwestern Universities.
Wiley explained, “…I decided that I would need to get involved and the traditional method of volunteering for an hour just really wasn’t going to work for me. I wanted something that was going to have a more lasting impression and UVote was a way for me to do it.”
Passionate volunteers are crucial to the success of UVote. Each year, UVote teams are trained on how to fill out the registration form, approach students, and answer common questions. For example, many people ask if UVote is affiliated with a particular party or if registering to vote signs them up for jury duty. (The answer to both of these reservations is no.)
Furthermore, it does not matter which state a student is from; UVote can register students in all 50 states and D.C. Students can opt to register in their home district or use their dorm address to register in their campus district. Often, this method is often most popular because students live on campus for the majority of the year and absentee ballots can be a hassle.
McGuire expressed her passion for UVote as well. She stated, “The government isn’t just a high power that people are afraid of…Congress is there for you…they’re our employees…so it is so important to elect the people. …It matters. Voter Registration matters so much.”
Workshop participants were impressed with UVote’s mission. Amanda Perry from Lynchburg College commented, “I really loved the presentation…I definitely think its something that we need to work on…so I will definitely be interested in pursing something like this in the future.”
Thanks to organizations like The UVote Project, student volunteers like Emmy Jo, Cody, and Kendra, and the participants of the Active Citizens Conference, millennials are getting involved in politics and fighting to make a difference in their communities.
Project UVote at Shenandoah University
By Donald R. Silvius
For information or questions contact:
Director, Dr. Karen Schultz at 540-678-4385, firstname.lastname@example.org
CPSS Administrative Assistant at 540-665-4696
The Center for Public Service and Scholarship is located in Gregory Hall, room 157.