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Thursday, Jun 20, 2024

MiddVotes looks to expand voter turnout ahead of midterm elections

MiddVotes — a nonpartisan club that works to increase civic engagement — is tackling midterm election voting head on.

“MiddVotes is passionate and enthusiastic when it comes to voter registration and civic engagement,” said Sophie Levine ’23, president of MiddVotes.

The club’s primary goal is to be a resource that students feel welcome to approach with any questions they have about voting.

MiddVotes’ main mission is to encourage voter turnout — regardless of candidate preference or location of voting — through voter registration drives. MiddVotes currently holds drives on Wednesdays at the Davis Family Library from 4:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. and Fridays in front of Proctor Dining Hall from 12:30 p.m. until 2:30 p.m.

Levine said that MiddVotes is always looking for volunteers to help with voter registration drives and that the club will provide voter registration training for anyone interested in getting involved. Currently, MiddVotes is also hoping to provide a shuttle service to help students get to the polls in downtown Middlebury.

Due to the emphasis MiddVotes places on remaining non-partisan, the club’s events do not involve helping other political groups on campus that are affiliated with a particular party.

“Civic engagement does not have to be partisan because voting is inherently a non-partisan activity,” Levine said.

The most important takeaway Levine hopes people gain through MiddVotes is that, above all, the club is a resource for the politically curious.

“If you have questions please come to us,” Levine said. “We have free stamps to help you mail ballots. We have absentee ballot forms. We send out emails about the deadline of registering when to vote in your state. We are a passionate and enthusiastic resource when it comes to voter registration and civic engagement.”

The club holds their meetings at the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) roughly once every two weeks. The typical MiddVotes club meeting is an opportunity to discuss creative strategies to get students excited about civic engagement including voting. “The meetings are non-formal and anyone can come,” Levine said.

The most important aspect about each meeting for those leading the club is that everyone’s voice is heard and everyone’s ideas are taken seriously, which Levine says is achieved through “democratizing the club.”

Levine believes the growth in members over the past few years has allowed for loosening the stiff hierarchy that existed when she first joined. The Student Activities Office requires that every club on campus must have a president and treasurer for administrative reasons, but other than those two formal roles, she said, “everyone ends up taking on what they are most comfortable with and, as a result, there aren’t really titles because everything happens organically.”

For instance, Levine said, members who feel confident in their technological ability might naturally fall into handling the social media accounts while others might engage in face to face interaction and end up coordinating voter registration drives. As president, Levine handles logistics such as registering events on Middlebury Presence. She views herself as a vessel through which members are able to communicate their ideas to the board. To her the most important part of being a leader is “intentionally making sure everyone gets a voice.”