“This right to vote is the basic right without which all others are meaningless. It gives people, as individuals, control over their own destinies.” – Lyndon B. Johnson
There is much on the ballot on Election Day (Tuesday, November 3) – from choosing the President of the United States, and members of Congress and local municipal government to deciding public issues such as legalizing marijuana. To help the University community exercise its constitutional right, the Montclair State Votes Coalition is registering students, faculty and staff to vote and connecting them with ballots and drop boxes.
“We have registered over 500 students online already and with some more voter registration events on the horizon, I anticipate that number to increase by a sizable amount,” says James Clark, graduate student coordinator for Civic and Voter Engagement for the University.
Election season is always an exciting time on campus, where there has been a long tradition of voter engagement, so much so that the Montclair State is among the Washington Monthly list of America’s Best Colleges for Student Voting.
Check Your Registration
The voter registration deadline in New Jersey is Tuesday, October 13. Visit the Montclair State University Andrew Goodman Foundation website to find out if you are already registered, what address you are registered with, and where your ballot will be mailed. If you are registered at your home address and live on campus, you can either update your voter registration to Montclair State or plan a trip home before Election Day.
The final in-person campus Montclair State Votes Coalition voter registration event – Last Chance to Register to Vote in November Election – took place Monday, October 12, from 1-5 p.m. in the Student Center Ballrooms.
While special appearances by Rocky the Red Hawk have helped drive registrations at in-person events – Rocky is always properly masked and socially distanced, and computers for registering voters are thoroughly sanitized between users – voter registration events have been mostly virtual, says Clark.
“The most popular and effective means [of engaging voters] has been the team coming to classroom Zoom meetings and sharing voter information on the screen at the beginning of the classes,” he says.
Mailing or Dropping Your Ballot Off
New Jersey is encouraging everyone to vote by mail or drop box. Because of that, there will be no on-campus polling location for this election, says Clark. Want to find a drop box? You can find it here.
“I actually dropped my ballot in a secure drop box last night, nice and easy,” says Clark.
In-person voting can only be done by provisional ballot at the polls. If you prefer to vote in person, polling locations can be found at the NJ Division of Elections website.
Out of State
Although most University students reside in New Jersey, Clark and his team, which is led by Center for Student Involvement Director Mariel Pagan and four students – Andrew Goodman Foundation Ambassadors Eros Acosta and Gianna D’Aloia, and Bonner Leaders Robert Clark and Kat Gilvey – are also fielding inquiries from out of state.
“I got an email from a student yesterday in New York and another student in Florida asking questions about how to get their ballot or changing their permanent address. We help them in just the same way,” says Clark.
Even after the registration frenzy is over, students can still expect to see Clark and his team pop into Zoom classrooms sometime before Election Day, in an effort to drive voter turnout.
“We will continue going to organizational events and going into classrooms. We’ve found that that’s the best way to reach students,” he says. “Once we get there, the students are engaged.”
Reach out to Montclair State Votes via social or email with questions about how to vote by mail, how to register or check your voter registration, as well as any other general questions about the election.
Story by Staff Writer Mary Barr Mann