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‘We want to make it less intimidating’: McDaniel College initiative aims to boost student voter registration

McDaniel College staff members, student groups and the Carroll County League of Women Voters have come together to urge students to register and vote in this year’s presidential election.

The voter registration drive is part of the McDaniel Votes initiative. Several offices on campus are involved, including the school’s Office of Student Engagement, Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Hoover Library, and the political science department, said Cheryl Knauer Director of Public Relations at McDaniels.

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Tanner Lewey, outreach and evening librarian for Hoover Library,has been at McDaniel for three years and when she heard there wasn’t a campuswide voting initiative or education it was something she was passionate about getting started.

“We are trying to help and clear things up for students and for some this will be their first year voting,” Lewey said. “We want to make it less intimidating.”

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Student groups that are a part of this voting initiative on campus are Hispano-Latinx Alliance, Alpha Phi Omega, Black Student Union, Green Life and Sunrise Movement.

The student groups have been staffing voter registration tables on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays since Sept. 14 and will continue to do so through Oct. 16.

One student representative for the Black Student Union, Carin Cole, a junior majoring in Spanish, wants to provide accessible information for students. At the tables, they give students information about places to vote and ways to check their registration status.

“We are providing students a place on campus to get registered and request information,” Cole said.

She noted that many students have been stopping by the table and are enthusiastic.

For out-of-state students, those staffing the tables are giving students information based on their home state’s guidelines, Cole said.

Cole said she believes many people are more confused than ever about the voting process this year because of the coronavirus pandemic and some didn’t put such an emphasis on voting in past years.

“It is important for the youth to vote this year because this [presidential] election has been very controversial and a lot of people are pushing the importance of voting,” Cole said.

Cole added that if students see other student leaders advocating for voting then they will be more inclined to get involved.

The Black Student Union will be setting up its table next week and has been promoting it on social media — candy incentives will be on hand for students who stop by.

“Something I love overall about McDaniel is how willing the different offices and student groups are to working with one another and for something as big as this,” Lewey said. “It’s been a bright spot in a frustrating time.”

For Maryland voters to receive a mail-in ballot, voters need to complete an application. That can be done online or by requesting an application at elections.maryland.gov.

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Absentee voting and mail-in voting are now “one in the same,” since the Maryland State Legislature changed the law to remove the term “absentee” and replace it with “mail-in."

Carroll County Times Editor Bob Blubaugh contributed to this article.

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