The University of Alabama’s chapter of Vote Everywhere was awarded chapter of the year by the group’s parent organization, The Andrew Goodman Foundation, which supports youth leadership development, voting accessibility and social justice initiatives on campuses across the country.
Vote Everywhere UA received the award because the group’s members “showed exemplary synergy in the creation of their campus action plan and execution of their civic engagement goals” and “worked together as an unbreakable unit to leverage their personal talents and interests toward the common goal of a more representative democracy,” according to The Andrew Goodman Foundation’s website.
“Our youth should not disqualify us from making our voices heard,” said last year’s team leader Ben Leonard, who graduated in the spring with a degree in political science.
Vote Everywhere UA was established in 2015, focusing on increasing the voter turnout by registering students to vote and making absentee ballots more accessible.
“Upwards of 80% of students are registered, but there’s a huge gap between who’s registered and who actually votes,” said Samuel Reece, the 2020-2021 team leader and a senior double majoring in political science and American studies. “A goal for us this year is to see if we can close the gap between theoretical and actual voters.”
The group has implemented several measures to increase voter turnout, but the organization also strives to get UA students more involved in government, whether in Tuscaloosa or in their hometowns.
“The goal is not just voting for voting’s sake — it’s also to get students more involved in politics,” said Dr. Richard Fording, a UA political science professor and Vote Everywhere UA’s faculty adviser.
“Voting is the primary way that we express our opinions. In the process of getting students to vote, we want to get students paying attention and making informed decisions, as well.”
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.