Rock Vote Registered 1

Rock the Vote Event Gets Over 100 Students Registered

The University’s Stand Up and Be Counted voter campaign and the Political Science Club hosted the first of two Rock the Vote events in front of the Rebecca Stafford Student Center, on Wednesday, Sept. 26. 

The event succeeded at getting more than 160 students on campus registered to vote, and featured free pizza, t-shirts, and a star-spangled dinosaur mascot. Joseph Patten, Ph.D., an associate professor of political science, and one of the coordinators of the Rock the Vote campaign, explained that the event was organized by a volunteer group, consisting of students, faculty, and administrators from all six schools, as well as University President Grey Dimenna, Esq.  “All six schools gave contribution to help fund the effort,” Patten said. “Our goal is to register 400 students on campus this semester.” 

In order to plan the event, the Political Science Club held meetings once a week on Wednesdays to come up with fun and creative ways to get students registered to vote. “A lot of the ideas come directly from the students,” said Patten. 

One of the ideas that has been utilized has been the “classroom barnstormers,” about 20 students who are going through classes on campus to help raise awareness about elections and helping to register students that way. 

Landon Myers, a senior political science student with a minor in economics, and President of the Political Science Club, explained that the barnstormers have gone through about 30 classrooms to discuss the importance of voting, informing students of upcoming elections, and handing out registration forms. “The professors were really helpful in allowing us to come into their classrooms and talk to their students,” said Myers. “Many of them also helped in organizing the Rock the Vote event.”

Kaitlin Allsopp, a senior political science student with a minor in gender studies, and one of the coordinators of the event from the Political Science Club, said, “I have been a part of the organization and execution of the annual Rock the Vote event for the past four years.  Each year we try to get the campus community energized about voting in all elections, big and small; we provide free food and music and basically just throw a star-spangled voting extravaganza.”

Kenneth Mitchell, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Political Science and Sociology, and an associate professor of political science, said, “Rock the Vote was a great success, with over 160 students newly registered for the upcoming November election.”

“What I am especially proud of is the fact that the Political Science Club leaders who spearheaded this initiative include both Republicans and Democrats. Our students are a model of the type of civic engagement that our country badly needs,” Mitchell added.

Patten agreed that one of the greatest things about the Rock the Vote events is that they are a non-partisan effort. “There’s no [partisan] agenda. The working group comes from all political stripes, coming together and working together to help raise awareness and get people to vote,” he said. 

“The most important thing is to get people to vote; no one cares how people vote,” Patten commented. “And actually, overwhelmingly, the students who register are choosing not to affiliate with either the Republican or the Democratic Party. A majority of students decide to remain independent.”

Stephen Chapman, Ph.D., an assistant professor of political science, said that he hopes the Rock the Vote events will help to serve as a way for students to get an idea of the democratic process. “It should also serve to energize first-time or younger voters to show up on Election Day to vote,” he said.  “Of course, I think it’s important for anyone to express their informed opinion. However, much of the way I approach politics from a scholarly perspective is about understanding outcomes.”

“I understand that the youngest age group, 18-25, tends to have the lowest voter turnout. There are multiple reasons for this including not feeling invested in the election or candidates, a lack of knowledge about the process or candidates, among many other individual-level traits,” Chapman continued. “So, while I won’t make a judgement call on how ‘important’ it is [for young people to vote], I will say that increasing youth voter turnout could fundamentally shift outcomes in many elections throughout the country. Increasing youth turnout would also make elected officials more accountable to the needs and wishes of younger generations.”

This year, the Rock the Vote events are also part of the 2018 New Jersey Ballot Bowl, a non-partisan, statewide collegiate voter registration competition, initiated by Governor Phil Murphy’s administration and New Jersey’s Secretary of State, Hon. Tahesha Way. According to the New Jersey Department of State official website, students at universities across the state compete against one another to register the most students to vote, and the winners will be announced at a special event before Election Day.

Because many students on campus are either registered with their home address or will not have means of transportation on Election Day, Patten and Myers stated that another effort being made by the Rock the Vote campaign is providing shuttles to bring students to polling locations on Nov. 6. 

“We have until Oct. 16 to get students registered to vote,” noted Patten.  “If you are already registered with your home address, but you won’t have access to your polling place, you have a few options: re-register with your Monmouth address or apply for absentee ballot and vote by mail. If you are not registered at all yet, come by my office, Bey Hall 246.”

The second Rock the Vote event will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 10 in front of the Rebecca Stafford Student Center between 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

PHOTO COURTESY of Joseph Patten