In a new resolution passed unanimously by College Council (CC), the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and UChiVotes will work together to mobilize the University community in the 2022 midterm elections.
Vice President of Campus & Student Life Connor Lee presented the uchiVote Act alongside Julianna Rossi and Estrella Hernandez, co-chairs of UChiVotes, a student-led voter engagement initiative housed in the Institute of Politics (IOP). The resolution outlines various goals, such as increasing early voting sites on campus, increasing accessibility of stamps, and disseminating information about voter registration to mobilize the school community in advance of the 2022 midterm elections.
“The resolution was drafted in response to the school’s student body voter turnout in the 2020 election,” Lee said.
“The voter turnout was about 60% overall on the campus, which is good, but we’re hoping for even more because it can always go up and should go up,” Lee said. “We hope to see that number increase in the future.”
Hernandez emphasized that analyzing data was key to creating the resolution. Creators of the uchiVOTE Act referred to the National Study of Learning, Voting, & Engagement (NSLVE), an annual report created by the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE) at Tufts University. In an effort to gain a better understanding about student voting behavior at the University of Chicago, the creators examined the report’s individualized breakdown on voter registration and turnout specifically at the University.
However, the NSLVE Campus Reports currently do not include a full data set of voting breakdowns because certain information is not provided by the University Registrar. Thus, the uchiVOTE Act also requests that the University Registrar share it with the IDHE so it can be made available in the NSLVE.
“We’re excited and hopeful that receiving a comprehensive set of information from the registrar will also help us share our outreach. So if we notice that there is a particular discrepancy in voting rates, we can engage with more targeted conversation with a given community on campus,” Hernandez said.
One of the key parts of the resolution proposes an increase in early voting sites for every general and primary election. Though the University of Chicago has a polling site on campus during elections, Rossi said she hopes the resolution will further cement its importance.
“One thing we’ve learned about students and student voting is that sometimes it can be really hard to vote by mail," Rossi said. “And having a primary voting site on campus is really key, especially given the accessibility of Illinois’s same-day registration.”
The resolution garnered the support of various members of the Institute of Politics (IOP), including Director David Axelrod, who was a signatory. Hernandez said she believes this was “a very important step” because it demonstrated that their commitment to increasing the voting rate was not only shared by USG and UChiVotes but also key leaders within the school.
Lee, Hernandez, and Rossi expressed their hope that the changes in the uchiVOTE Act will engage students in future elections.
“In the time that I’ve been at UChicago, I haven’t seen a resolution specifically aimed at voter turnout and registration efforts,” Lee said, “so I think this is going to be a really great platform to increase those numbers going forward and really mobilize the whole campus community in support of this.”