Student and College administrators coordinate voting awareness and accessibility campaign

In the run-up to the 2022 midterm elections today, students have spread voter awareness and Dartmouth Student Government has arranged for buses to transport students from campus to the polling station at Hanover High School.

by Taylor Haber | 11/9/22 4:03pm

11-3-22-zoeolson-townhall
by Zoe Olson / The Dartmouth

As voters across the nation head to the polls today, Dartmouth students and administrators have sought to increase voting awareness and accessibility on campus. Campus organizers have conducted voter registration drives, provided information to those seeking to vote either in New Hampshire or absentee in their home state and arranged student Election Day shuttles to polling stations.

Non-partisan organizing efforts have been largely conducted through Dartmouth Votes, a voting awareness initiative founded in 2020 and coordinated by Dartmouth Student Government, the Rockefeller Center for Public Policy, the Collis Center for Student Involvement and the Office for Student Life according to student government president David Millman ’23. This year, the bloc partnered with the All-In Challenge — a national collegiate voting initiative — to raise student civic engagement, Millman said. 

According to Millman, student government has three guiding mandates: advocacy, initiatives and communication. Election awareness programs — to which student government has provided between $5,000 and $6,000 this year — fulfill all three, he added.

“A healthy community engages at all levels of civic life, and we have a role in trying to use our resources to educate and inform and encourage people to vote,” Millman said.

Millman added that the majority of student government funding has been used to pay for Election Day shuttles. The two bus routes, which will run from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, will transport students from ten stops across campus, including bus stops by the Rockefeller Center, the Irving Institute, the Life Sciences Center and Baker-Berry library, to the polling station at Hanover High School. 

Assistant Dean for Student Life Edward McKenna, who helps to administer Dartmouth Votes, said the initiative has been a “true partnership between administration and students.”

McKenna highlighted the efforts of Millman and student government vice president Jessica Chiriboga ’24, as well as Armita Mirkarimi ’25 and Bea Burack ’25 — two students who independently organized multiple voter information drives.

Earlier in the fall, Mirkarimi and Burack said they had been discussing ways to get politically involved on campus in the lead-up to the midterms. With Dartmouth Votes’ support, the pair began “tabling” — non-partisan voter information sessions in which Mirkarimi and Burack would sit behind a table to discuss making plans to vote with passing students.

Along with other volunteers, Mirkarimi and Burack will be conducting tabling sessions on Election Day on the Collis Center porch from 9 to 10 a.m., 12:15 to 2:15 p.m. and 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. 

“For students to take that initiative and carve out that much time…it’s been amazing,” McKenna said.

Burack said that tabling sessions have revealed that while there is enthusiasm on campus for the election, there is also a need for more readily-available voting information. 

“The response we often get to ‘Do you plan on voting?’ or ‘Do you have a plan to vote?’ is ‘Yes,’” Burack said. “[But] then if you follow up with that person and ask, ‘Are you planning to vote in New Hampshire or in your home state?’ I think you immediately start to see that people … just haven’t made the plan.”

Mirkarimi and Burack said the work of former Dartmouth students has been an inspiration to their current initiatives. Burack pointed to the efforts of Vote Clamantis, a now defunct student voting organization which turned out record numbers of College student voters during the 2008 presidential election cycle. Mirkarimi said their current programming is meant to “plant the seeds” for future voter initiatives in 2024.

“We’re just hoping to make this bigger and more exciting, as the presidential [election] is coming along,” Mirkarimi said.

Students affiliated with partisan groups on campus have also spearheaded their own voting initiatives. Recently, Dartmouth Democrats conducted phone bank drives for Organize New Hampshire — a subsidiary of the New Hampshire Democratic Party — that is “fighting to elect Democrats up and down the ballot,” according to its website.

Dartmouth Democrats executive director Prescott Herzog ’25 said that the organization is encouraging students to vote for the Democratic party, while also stressing the fundamental civic importance of voting.

“...Democrats align with my values and I want to support Democratic candidates,” Herzog said. “So that’s why I take a partisan approach in that sort of sense.”

Sam Cooper ’26 said he plans on voting in person in New Hampshire and feels “very open” to candidates and issues on the ballot.

“I just want to vote this year because I know my vote counts and it’s a civic duty,” he said.

Representatives for the College Republicans and Dartmouth Libertarians did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Correction appended (Nov. 9, 4:05 p.m.): A previous version of the article did not use Jessica Chiriboga's preferred first name. The article has been updated. 

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