Voter Registration and Education Kicks into High Gear at Centenary University
Student engagement in 2020 election is strong as the University hosts events throughout the fall semester to raise electoral awareness among first-time voters.
HACKETTSTOWN, NJ, Oct. 15, 2020—With Generation Z expected to play a key role in the outcome of this year’s hotly-contested presidential election, Centenary University this fall joined colleges and universities around the nation to register first-time voters, as well as educate all voters about the changing mechanics of casting a ballot during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Pew Research Institute estimates that one in 10 eligible voters falls within Generation Z, who were born between 1997 and 2010. For many between the ages of 18 and 23, this will be their first election, according to Rachel Danitz, community engagement coordinator at Centenary University. “If they turn out to vote, college students can make a big impact on the outcome of this election,” Danitz said. “Our goal this fall was to emphasize that every voice counts. No matter who you vote for, it’s so important to be informed about the issues and exercise your constitutional right to vote.”
To encourage students to participate in the electoral process, the University posted a web page with useful information for first-time voters. In addition, Centenary’s Student Government Association and Campus Ministry hosted a series of events, with a special emphasis on educating first-time voters about the many changes the pandemic has brought to the process. Last month, Centenary and the League of Women Voters sponsored on campus voter registration to mark Constitution Day and National Voter Registration Day. During National Voter Education Week, held Oct. 5 through Oct. 9, the University presented in-person and virtual educational activities to encourage registration and increase awareness of voting by mail options, the benefits of making a voting plan, and tips on understanding the ballot. Events included on-campus registration with the League of Women Voters; virtual text banking activities, with students educating voters via text messages; the CU at the Polls Virtual Challenge to engage remote students; and social media campaigns by the Student Government Association and the Office of Community Engagement to educate the public about voting. Next on the schedule is a campus-wide virtual text banking volunteer event for Vote Early Day on Oct. 23, during which students will text fellow Centenary students to get the word out about early voting options. At press time, the University’s efforts led to interactions with 210 students—84 in person and 126 virtually.
Founded in 1867 by the Newark Conference of the United Methodist Church, Centenary University’s academic program integrates a solid liberal arts foundation with a strong career orientation. This mix provides an educational experience that prepares students to succeed in the increasingly global and interdependent world. The University’s main campus is located in Hackettstown, N.J., with its equestrian facility in Washington Township. The Centenary University School of Professional Studies offers degree programs in Parsippany, as well as online and at corporate sites throughout New Jersey.