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Middlebury College student organization gears up for the voting season

Red, white and blue buttons that say "vote"
MiddVotes, a student civic action organization, and the Middlebury College Center for Community Engagement, have released an action plan aimed at increasing student voting.

With the midterm election just weeks away, a nonpartisan student organization at Middlebury College is working to get out the youth vote.

MiddVotes, a student civic action organization, and the Middlebury College Center for Community Engagement, have released an action plan aimed at increasing student voting.

The plan is part of a nationwide student voter engagement initiative called the All In Democracy Challenge. It sets benchmarks and goals for college campuses across the country.

Five universities in Vermont are signed up under the challenge including Bennington College, Castleton University, Northern Vermont University - Johnson, Champlain College and Middlebury.

Only Middlebury has submitted an action plan for 2022. It includes marketing strategies, campus-wide student events, transportation on voting day, ballot mailing assistance, and more.

Neta Kafka, a senior and treasurer of the group, said in-person, on-campus events have a big impact.

"What energizes me the most is being able to make a tangible impact of - if we hadn't been there that day, this person probably wouldn't have gotten their absentee ballot and might not have voted this year,” she said.

The group focuses on increasing voting accessibility for Middlebury students. That includes students who choose to vote in Vermont, or in their home state.

Kafka said one of the more common questions students have is how to choose where to vote. She encourages students to consider their community.

"A really good way of looking at it is, whatever community you feel most connected to, and most at home, where the issues at play are ones that you really care about, and feel passionate about and you want to have your voice heard on those, that's where you should be voting,” Kafka said.

MiddVotes will send out targeted emails, reminding students to take the steps needed in order to obtain a ballot or register to vote. They also provide postage for all students completing absentee ballots.

Vermont does not have a voter registration deadline.

According to the Vermont Secretary of State’s Office, Vermonters who are attending college out of state can vote in Vermont’s elections. Contact your local town or city clerk to receive an absentee ballot.

For students attending college in Vermont from another state, the Secretary of State’s Office suggests checking with the Office of the Secretary of State or Elections Board in your home state to find out how to register to vote and/or request an absentee ballot.

This story is a collaboration between Vermont Public and the Community News Service. The Community News Service is a student-powered partnership between the University of Vermont’s Reporting & Documentary Storytelling program and community newspapers across Vermont.

Louise Scoville is a senior at the University of Vermont majoring in English with a minor in film and television studies.
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