From Binghamton University:
BINGHAMTON, NY – Due to a need for increased space for social distancing and the reallocation of other large-scale spaces on campus due to pandemic-related needs, Binghamton University’s on-campus polling site will be relocated to the Events Center this November.
The University, which encompasses three of Vestal’s 19 election districts, has hosted an on-campus polling site for residential students since at least the 1970s. Historically the polling site was located in assembly rooms in the Union, but those spaces are currently being used for COVID-19 surveillance testing and other socially distanced meeting places for students, faculty and staff.
Binghamton University students, working with the Center for Civic Engagement, the office that leads student voter outreach initiatives on campus, are leading efforts to publicize the change in location and get their peers informed about and involved in the electoral process.
“Our students know their peers best and can use their network to connect with other students,” said Alison Handy Twang, associate director of the CCE. “Together we have made a real difference in increasing student participation in the democratic process, with Binghamton’s student voting rate increasing in every local, state and federal election since 2012.”
During the 2016 election, the number of student voters increased by 10.2 percentage points over the 2012 election, more than double the national average at similar institutions.
To engage their peers, the student voter engagement team is delivering virtual presentations during classes as requested by faculty, a secure drop box has been installed outside the CCE office so that students can drop off registration forms when the office isn’t open and to help maintain social distancing, and the team is also holding regular tabling hours on the Peace Quad and Spine to assist students with voting-related questions or concerns. Every form turned in to the CCE is reviewed for errors to help ensure there are no unnecessary delays in getting students’ forms processed by the board of elections.
The University is also participating in two pledge to vote competitions, one pitting Binghamton students against other universities in the America East Conference, and one among other SUNY schools.
Student-athletes are also getting involved, having identified promoting student voter engagement as a concrete step they could take toward launching a larger civic engagement initiative addressing some of the issues of racial injustice facing the country. Nine student athletes representing eight teams received training and resources from the CCE, and they have been registering their peers to vote ever since.
“I was excited about the formation of this committee because I know that student athletes are generally a demographic that may not always be informed of the voting process due to our busy and complex schedules,” said junior Tyra Wilson, a member of the women’s volleyball team majoring in rhetoric and global culture and minoring in Spanish. “Even more than that, I really wanted to have a part in increasing voter engagement on campus in any way that I can, and this group provided the perfect opportunity for that.”