ODUVotes: A new initiative to build the student vote

By Natalie Hockaday | Editor-in-Chief

As Election Day approaches the push for early voting was campaigned heavily throughout the country. The push for early voting has been broadcasted on social media for months now with an emphasis to get younger people to cast their ballot.

ODU has started an initiative to get students to be more active in this year’s election by starting ODU Votes. It’s an initiative under the Center for Service & Civic Engagement at the university and they provide information to inform students on ways they can be active in the election.

“It’s important to vote because our ancestors were not able to vote or did not have rights for a very long time. African Americans did not have the same rights we do now, and women were not able to vote for a long period of time also. So, I feel it is important for me to exercise those rights,” said Ciera Seymour, Junior at ODU. Seymour decided to vote early in-person for this election to avoid the long lines that may come about on election day.

The ODUVotes initiative started during the spring 2020 semester in collaboration with a Public Relations campaign class for a project. The university had always tried to start initiatives to engage more students to vote but with ODUVotes they were able to keep it steady.

ODUVotes says that they will have more information about how much engagement they received overall from the initiate and the effects it had in student voter turnout for the 2020 presidential election. ODUVotes also plans on continuing the initiative beyond the current election.

“While it can be tempting to focus on elections only during presidential years, Virginia is a state that has elections every November, and other primary and local elections during the year as well. It was great to get this initiative off the ground during a Presidential election year, but the hope is that moving forward, ODUVotes will be an information hub for students during lesser publicized elections as well,” said Amy Joaquim, a leader within the ODUVotes initiative.

The push for voting early was pushed on many platforms from political campaigns, celebrities, local and state activists/ organizations. ODUVotes hopes that students will still be involved with community issues beyond the presidential election but hopes that the current initiatives is a start to more participation in local engagement.

“Engaging in the elections process is one way for students to be involved and have their voices heard, but there are many other ways to engage in the community as well. We hope students will take the opportunity to vote, but then take the next step to stay engaged in community issues year-round,” said Joaquim.