TrinVotes! Adapts to COVID Restrictions

Brendan W. Clark ’21

Editor-in-Chief

TrinVotes!, a voter education initiative at Trinity launched in February, intends to continue its engagement work in the fall in advance of the 2020 Presidential Election. The initiative sees support from students, faculty, and staff, and includes collaboration with the Connecticut Public Interest Research Group (ConnPIRG), the Student Government Association, and the Office of the President. 

In March, TrinVotes! held a watch party for one of the Democratic debates and has since sought to adapt their offerings to accommodate the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

For the fall, TrinVotes! aims to ensure that every Trinity student is registered to vote in Connecticut or in their home states in advance of Election Day on Nov. 3. Bailey Cook ’21, a Public Policy and Law major and ConnPIRG intern, indicated that there will hopefully be a “debate watch party…recognizing National Voter Registration Day, and [opportunities for education] on the process of voting and mailing in absentee ballots.” Liliana Polley, also in the Public Policy and Law program, indicated that TrinVotes! is looking for “safe and responsible ways to host phone banks” in addition to debate watch parties. 

The Tripod spoke with Associate Professor of Policy Studies Adrienne Fulco, who described the initiative as a “community effort” and added that “many organizations that are on-campus are involved.” This is “one of the things we’re so happy about,” Fulco added, citing the effort of the community, which includes leadership from Fulco, Director of the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement Joe Barber, and Director of the Office of Community Relations and Trinfo.Cafe Carlos Espinosa ’96, M ’98, and Chief of Staff to the President Jason Rojas, among others. 

Fulco stressed that TrinVotes! is completely “non-partisan” and is dedicated to both “voter registration and voter education broadly.” This commitment, echoed Polley, is part of what inspired her to join because of her belief that “voting and participation in elections is one of the key freedoms of American life.” These broad education efforts may take several forms, including access to resources and a “concerted faculty effort,” Fulco noted, as well as education among small groups and student organizations across campus. 

“Regardless of whom you support, it is important to exercise your rights,” Polley continued. Cook, similarly, stressed that the initiative is critical due to “the lapse in voter turnout among young people,” especially those who are “college-aged [and] college educated.” 

Especially during the pandemic, Fulco noted, students need access to registration information so they can be “educated and aware of the practicalities around voting in their particular state.”  TrinVotes! is a part of the larger NESCAC Votes All In Challenge that seeks to increase student civic engagement across colleges.  

Fulco also envisions the work TrinVotes! does during this critical year as “creating a blueprint” of how to continue voter education in the future.” Further information about the TrinVotes! initiative will be communicated to the campus community in the coming weeks. 

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