#HawktheVote: More than 1,000 new registrations ahead of Nov. 6 elections

The 2018 get-out-the-vote effort at SUNY New Paltz saw the registration of more than 1,000 first-time and change-of-address voters, with student organizations and faculty and staff volunteers leading a grassroots charge to encourage student engagement with the democratic process.

Across New York State, polls will open on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6, at 6 a.m., and remain open until 9 p.m.

Many resident student voters will be able to cast their ballots at the Student Union polling location, while students who are registered with local, off-campus addresses will likely be designated to vote at one of the many polling places in and around the New Paltz area.

The easiest way to confirm your registration status and polling location is to visit the New York State Board of Elections at http://www.elections.ny.gov/index.html.

The Office of Student Activities & Union Services is the campus department charged with helping students register to vote, fielding questions and providing registration forms for all New Paltz students.

This fall, the office helped coordinate a number of election-related events, including registration drives on Sept. 25 (National Voter Registration Day) and Oct. 12 (the state registration deadline to be eligible to vote in 2018), and a screening of the documentary film “One Vote” on Oct. 3. Throughout the fall, the campus has also served as a venue for a wide range of political speakers and events, in accordance with the SUNY-wide policy for political activity on campus.

After the registration deadline, Student Activities & Union Services supported a #HawktheVote campaign to promote voter participation on Election Day. An Oct. 24 rally, hosted by the College’s chapter of New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), brought together student groups, guest speakers, artists and musicians to raise awareness and enthusiasm for voting.

NYPIRG, a non-partisan organization that advocates for voters’ rights, among other issues, provided voter registration trainings for many of the students who have taken part in the drive to mobilize.

“In order to preserve the strengths of this democracy, you have to participate in it,” said NYPRIG member Chris Rothwell ’18 (Economics, International Relations).

Youth voting in midterm elections typically lags behind the general election turnout, but the trend may be reversing itself in New Paltz. A 2017 Tufts University study found that the SUNY New Paltz student voting rate increased by more than eight percent from 2012 to 2016, and Rothwell said the high number of registrations this fall suggests that the 2018 rate will outpace that of the 2014 midterms.

“People have been really excited about the opportunity to register and be civically engaged this year,” he said.

Visit the Office of Student Activities & Union Services online for up-to-date information about registration and voting at SUNY New Paltz.

The Disability Resource Center serves as the campus site coordinator for those who request accommodations related to voting, and can be contacted at 845-257-3020.

Want to learn more about all the federal, state and local candidates on the ballot this year? The SUNY Student Assembly partnered with CivicEngine to develop a SUNY Votes tool that provides non-partisan information on every candidate.

Additional resources are available from the New York State Board of Elections and the Ulster County Board of Elections.