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Political clubs prepare for midterm elections

Student organizations at Boston University including BU Votes, BU College Democrats, BU College Republicans and College of Arts and Sciences Student Government are encouraging students to vote through social media posts, canvassing and election day watch parties.

Members of the Boston University College Democrats holding up signs encouraging people to vote yes on Question 1. Various student organizations at BU are encouraging students to vote in the upcoming midterm election. COURTESY OF BU COLLEGE DEMOCRATS VIA INSTAGRAM

BUCD held events this semester in preparation for the election, including a letter writing campaign with the Boston College and Northeastern University College Democrats chapters, a voter education workshop, a voter registration drive and a canvassing trip to New Hampshire, said Alice Scollins, a junior in CAS and president of BUCD.

“It’s amazing to see that so many young people and college-aged students are so involved and really passionate and care about politics,” Scollins said. “I think it says a lot for the future of our country, and it’s just great to see so many people motivated.”

The Swing Left, a progressive political organization created after the 2016 election to increase voter turnout, organized the canvassing trip to New Hampshire. BUCD shared the information and went alongside other Boston-area Democrat clubs, including Brandeis University and Tufts University Democrats chapters. 

Attendees headed to New Hampshire to support Rep. Chris Pappas (NH-01) with the goal of educating votes, supporting democratic candidates and ensuring people have a voting plan, according to the event website. 

Shana Weitzen, a sophomore in CAS and BUCD campus coordinator, was one of the seven BUCD students in attendance and canvassed because of what’s at “stake” in swing districts like New Hampshire, she said. 

“It’s important that you go out and canvass for your candidates because the election could really go either way, especially this election when there’s so much on the line with abortion rights, voter rights [and] climate activism stuff,” she said. “There’s so much riding on this election that it is just really important to be as active as possible.” 

Her group knocked on almost 100 doors and left pamphlets with information about the Democratic candidates and vote planning at all doors, even the ones that didn’t answer. 

While students were there to canvass for Democratic candidates, Weitzen believes she was also canvassing for the act of voting and getting people to the polls, she said. 

“(Voting is) just important in itself,” she said. “Exercising that right to vote by getting to the polls, casting that vote, making sure that everyone can exercise that vote, that’s what our democracy is about. Of course, I was out there campaigning for Democrats but to me, it’s just more important that people are voting.”

Similar to BUCD, BU College Republicans have also held events and shared information about the election. Declan Donahue, a junior in CAS and president of BUCR said every election, including local races, is important. 

“Most of (our members) don’t have a competitive race on our ballot, but it’s the state local elections that do really matter and directly affect the way that you live your life in your state,” he said. “We really want to make sure we’re staying involved with those elections as well, not just the top liners.”

Donahue said BUCR has been encouraging students to vote in the midterms by sharing voter resources and information during club meetings, answering student questions about voting and canvassing for Republican congressional candidates.

“This is how you get started in politics,” Donahue said. “It starts with the groundwork to make the connections and work your way up so considering how many political science students and politics-interested students (there are canvassing) was a great opportunity to actually start with some engagement.”

Amanda Lohnes, a sophomore in the School of Hospitality and Administration and BUCR member, said canvassing has been a good opportunity to meet people with similar values to her as students from Republican clubs at Northeastern University, Tufts and University of Vermont also went to Rhode Island to canvass.

“I was really nervous because knocking on people’s doors can be super intimidating,” Lohnes said. “Even if they’re voting for the other candidate, they were super glad that we were involved in politics. They were really happy to see young people out there helping out.”

The 2020 presidential election saw the highest voter turnout in the 21st century, with 66.8% of citizens 18 and older voting in the election, but the lowest age group voter turnout was in 18 to 24-year-olds, at 51.4%, according to the 2021 U.S. Census Report. 

Amanda Lohnes said it’s important to increase voter turnout among young people because young people need their “voice to be heard.”

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