By Elinor Brunner ‘26
Of the many student organizations on campus, perhaps none are more currently relevant than HWS Votes. The 2022 midterms are coming up this November, with elections in all 50 states, and the majority of students will be eligible to vote. That’s where HWS Votes come in.
Their main goal is to get students to vote; this includes educating them on how to register to vote and how to request an absentee ballot. The members have conducted over 60 classroom visits so far this year. They’ve also held some special events to promote voter registration, and they talk to CAs, faculty, and the athletics department so their message can spread to students who might not interact with them directly.
Kate Equinozzi ‘23, one of the co-presidents of HWS Votes, wants to highlight three things about the organization. “It’s non-partisan. That’s the biggest core value. We’re not supporting a party. We’re not supporting a candidate. It’s just voter education. It’s also student-led. We really want to get student voices involved and have as many people as possible at the table chatting. That’s why we always have at least two co-presidents. And finally, it’s an initiative…It’s about going into classes and putting the word out there.”
Kate has been a member of HWS Votes since her freshman year. She helped with the registration efforts during the 2020 election, when HWS had a voting rate of 68.9%. This was double the 2016 election’s rate of 35.7%, and HWS was recognized by the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge for this improvement. Now Kate and her co-presidents Samari Brown ‘24 and Katelyn Oswalt ‘24 (who is studying abroad this semester) are working to keep the ball rolling. Midterm elections historically have smaller turnout than those in presidential years, but they’re hoping to improve upon the 39.1% national voting rate for the 2018 election.
One of the most important parts of what they do is making students realize why they should be voting. “Small choices make large change…Especially with local elections, your vote really counts. And it is really just a ten-minute action of requesting an absentee ballot or registering to vote. It’s a very simple process, and we try to make it simpler,” Equinozzi ‘23 said. She adds that all postage is free for students’ election mail; CCESL covers it, whether it’s for registration forms or absentee ballots.
If you want to get involved with HWS Votes, or if you just want to learn more about how to register to vote or request an absentee ballot, there are several ways to do so. They have a table in the Scandling Center on Tuesdays between 5:30 and 7, and they hold office hours in Trinity Hall between 3 and 5 on Thursdays. They are also available at their Instagram @hwsvotes and their email firstname.lastname@example.org. There will be a text voting drive on October 25, and Vote Early Day is October 28. If you’re interested in voting advocacy, now is the time to join HWS Votes.