With shuttle buses ferrying Red Hawks to polling places and students crisscrossing the Quad proudly sporting their “I voted” stickers, the campus was quietly buzzing with excitement on Election Day.
Much was on the Nov. 3, 2020, ballot, from choosing the President of the United States, members of Congress and local municipal government to deciding public policy issues such as legalizing marijuana.
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.
Trevor Stephney, a senior majoring in Filmmaking, said he mailed his ballot in early October. “It’s the first election where I’m eligible to vote, and considering the magnitude of 2020’s political climate, it definitely felt important. I’m proud to exercise my constitutional right as an American citizen.”
“We registered 750 students online before the October 13 deadline,” says James Clark, graduate student coordinator for Civic and Voter Engagement. “The most popular and effective means [of engaging voters] was the team coming to classroom Zoom meetings and sharing voter information on the screen at the beginning of the classes.”
Clark and his Montclair State Votes Coalition 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 – also fielded questions from students who are out-of-state voters.
Likewise, the Student Government Association went virtual in their efforts to register students to vote and to make sure they got to the polls. “We’ve posted on our [Instagram] stories, sent emails, posted posts and videos, and had other organizations make social media content in order for others to vote. We have been using the hashtags: #RedHawkVoter and #IamVotingBecause,” says Paulette C. Gando, the SGA’s executive secretary.
“Every election is important because it will write the history for many years and communities in the U.S. The importance of voting is crucial and we should have this momentum every election,” Gando says.
On election day, shuttle buses organized by the Montclair State Voter Coalition were leaving from the Red Hawk Deck and University Hall to take students to polling places. The week before, shuttles were available to take students to ballot boxes.
Casey Masterson, a senior majoring in German, voted by mail. “That was slightly underwhelming because I was looking forward to the voting machine experience. When I was a kid, my grandma would take me with her and let me push the button for who she wanted. I was looking forward to doing that myself, but alas, COVID happened. It was important to vote nonetheless, because this election is beyond important.”
Serhenna Bazile, a sophomore and Film major, said she was also aware of the importance of participating. “This was my first time voting for a president at a time when it’s most crucial and the outcome has serious effects.”
For more information:
Read more about the Montclair State Votes Coalition here:
See the Election Day photo essay by Montclair State University photojournalism students here: