A group of Meredith students has worked hard this semester to get their peers to the polls for the Midterm elections.
“It’s important to me, especially at a historically women’s college, to be able to provide those resources to people who might not have them,” said Kaitlyn Zhoroff, ’24.
Students Charlie Hatch, ’23, and Zhoroff are part of Meredith Votes, a class and organization offered by the political science program through which participants gather resources and materials to inform the campus community about upcoming elections.
“Meredith Votes actually used to be a part of a separate class, and we were supposed to go to national conventions, but then in 2020, COVID happened, so we weren’t able to go. But we still had the Meredith Votes project, which was to give Meredith students, staff, and faculty resources to register to vote, go to early voting, go on election day, or anything like that,” said Hatch.
With midterm elections taking place this year, Hatch approached the professor of the class, David McLennan, and asked if the class would be offered again. A few days later, it was approved and available for the fall 2022 semester.
“I recognized how important the class was. When we did it for the first time, many students said, “This (2020) is a huge election. It really stressed me out,” to the point where they put everything off. They also came from multiple different states, so they didn’t know if they could change their registration or how to do an absentee ballot or just the absentee ballot process of their own state,” said Hatch. “So knowing how important it was during the presidential election year, I also wanted to stress that midterm elections are just as important if not more important.”
Another reason Hatch reached out to McLennan is because of Meredith’s high voter turnout rate in the 2020 presidential election and the desire to maintain that number. The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge named Meredith a platinum campus in 2020, meaning there was an 80-89% voting rate.
Students in the class are working on different voting projects for the Meredith community. Some of these projects include voter registration drives, voter pledges, walk to the polls, and a nonpartisan voter guide.
Zhoroff is part of the group that put together the guide, which has short profiles of every candidate running for office in Wake County. This way, faculty, staff, and students can be as informed as possible about who is running in their local elections. Although gathering all the necessary information has been tedious, Zhoroff said she’s had fun working with her peers on something she is passionate about.
Another important part of Meredith Votes is the presentations they give to First Year Experience (FYE) classes about voting. FYE classes are designed to help first-year students successfully transition into college.
“We talk about why it’s important to vote and what elections are in Wake County specifically,” said Hatch. “We want them to be familiar with Wake County and have a basic understanding of what elections are up in your county and how to do absentee ballot voting.”
Meredith Votes has also collaborated with different clubs on campus to make sure it is a widespread and collaborative initiative.
“I’m really hoping that we’ve established a basic foundation for future classes of voting. I don’t think it’ll be every year, but I think it will be every midterm and national election. So hopefully, people still sign up for it and find TAs to be able to do it. I’m really hoping that that takes off,” said Hatch.
Election Day is November 8, and classes are not being held so that all students have the opportunity to go out and vote. To learn more and receive updates about voting in Wake County, Meredith Votes can be found on Instagram @meredith_votes.