CCEL provides opportunities for voter engagement on campus

The Center for Civic Engagement and Learning (CCEL) helps students learn about voting and voter engagement.

Courtesy of CCEL

The Center for Civic Engagement and Learning (CCEL) helps students learn about voting and voter engagement.

Megan Gawronski, Contributing reporter

The United States general election is just around the corner—and for students who are eligible to vote, it’s time to take action. The deadline to register as a voter in Ohio is Oct. 5, so anyone who wishes to register before the election needs to act quickly—the importance of taking the time to vote in this day and age cannot be overstated.  

“Voting is a central component of being an active community member,” explained Betsy Banks, the director of Case Western Reserve University’s Center for Civic Engagement and Learning (CCEL). “Often, the issues that people really care about are influenced by policies, so voting can be an important way to influence positive change.”

Despite the significance of voting, a large number of eligible voters, especially young voters, don’t show up at the polls; according to the United States Census Bureau, only 61.4% of the voting-age population voted in the 2016 general election, with only 46.1% of voters ages 18-29 making their voices heard. This is a problem: As Banks describes, elected officials are making decisions about issues such as student debt, university funding and the economy, which directly affect many people in this age bracket. Voting allows these elected officials to hear the concerns of the most impacted group on these issues, and gives people the opportunity to create meaningful changes in their governments. 

CWRU provides many resources to help students who are eligible to vote make their voices heard. Members of the CWRU community can use TurboVote, a website which allows them to quickly access all the materials necessary to register to vote, update their voter information or request an absentee ballot. This program can assist voters from all 50 states. 

“Sometimes the process of registering to vote and actually voting can seem complicated, but CCEL is here to help make it easier,” said Banks. “Whether you are studying on-campus or remotely, CCEL can help you get ready for the election”.

For students who wish to get more involved in political engagement on campus, programs such as the Vote Everywhere program are open to student ambassadors. Members of this program work to register voters, remove voting barriers and take on social justice issues impacting their campus. These students also co-facilitate workshops on political engagement, volunteer at outreach events for National Voter Registration Day and Election Day and work together with other student organizations to plan on-campus events that allow for political engagement. 

In addition, CCEL provides a great variety of resources for voters on campus. Faculty members and student organizations are able to request an online, nonpartisan Voting 101 presentation for a Zoom class or meeting run by CCEL’s Voting Outreach Team and Vote Everywhere Ambassadors. Voters are also able to visit CCEL’s website, which has election and voter resources that include election deadlines and an FAQ section which addresses common student questions. Banks also encouraged anyone who needs assistance to stop by CCEL, which is located in Tink 165, to email them for an online appointment or to attend a Virtual Voting Q&A Session, which are held on Thursday and Friday afternoons. 

Early voting begins in Ohio on Oct. 6 and runs until Nov. 2.