Hamline News

Aiming for High Voter Turnout


In the 2018 election, Hamline University achieved a student voting participation rate of 63.3%, the highest in the nation among peer institutions. For that accomplishment, Hamline was recognized by the All In Campus Democracy Challenge with a Platinum Seal for having the overall highest voting rate at a private, 4-year college/university.

Hamline Votes, a group promoting student voter participation, has built on that success and hopes to record a 90% voter turnout among Hamline students in the general 2020 election. After months of posting information, online meetings, and social media outreach, the group hopes to make Election Day meaningful and maybe even fun.

“We have decorated the bus that will be taking students to the Hamline University polling place,” said Nur Mood, leader of Hamline Votes and Hamline’s assistant director of social justice programs and strategic relations for the Middle East and North Africa region. The group rented a large bus to accommodate COVID-19 precautions and will also accompany students who prefer to walk.

Members of Hamline Votes include Assistant Provost Caroline Hilk; faculty members Jim Schiebel, Jeanne Fox, and John Sheppard; staff members Jane Krentz, Becky Kaarbo, Karen Heggernes, and Christine Weeks; and current and former student leaders from Hamline University Student Congress, Andrew Weston, Kaia Ziegler, Cece Miller, and Dieu Do; and senior Nick Cobian and junior SJ Welch.

After serious efforts via posters and lawn signs on campus, and a voting series on social media, the group decided to bring an element of joy to Election Day.

“The bus will be festive and also, we will hand out snacks in the Anderson Center all day,” said Mood. “Voting is a wonderful privilege that we want to celebrate.”

The element of fun does not diminish the seriousness of voting and the importance of civic engagement to the members of Hamline Votes. Some students see voting as a way to improve circumstances for their communities.

Junior SJ Welch, who transferred to Hamline University this fall, said, “The current politicians in power have made detrimental impacts on my Native American community through racist policies. I believe that through the power of voting we can truly put people into positions of power that better represent us and can take better care of Indigenous communities!”

“I am passionate about political organizing and the electoral process because my family and I understand how it feels to not have a say in the policies being made that are shaping our lives,” said Dieu Do, a senior majoring in political science and criminology with a minor in social justice, who serves as an ambassador for Hamline Votes.

Mood feels a similar personal motivation to encourage election participation. As an immigrant and former refugee from Somalia, the privilege and responsibility he felt when he first voted remain. He wants to pass on that sense of civic duty to students.

No matter whom students vote for, he said, voting has a real impact, and it’s a right that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

“One vote can make a difference, whether it’s something you care about locally or at the state or federal level,” said Mood.

Do and Welch agree.

“To me, voting is an act of resistance against oppressive systems, reclaiming my place at the decision-making table, and is the easiest way for me to protect my community and those I love,” said Do.

“I want a world with more love and less racism, homophobia, and xenophobia. I am hoping to vote for people and encourage my generation to vote for people that can make that happen,” said Welch.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020 is Election Day. Hamline Votes will provide information and bus rides or walking escorts to the polls from the Anderson Center starting at 7 a.m. The bus leaves from behind Public Safety. All members of the campus community are invited to the Hamline Votes table in the Anderson Center to grab a snack.

Read more about the Hamline's All In Campus Democracy Challenge Platinum Seal.


Written by Christine Weeks with Anne Kopas, who wrote: “All In: Hamline University honored for highest undergraduate voting rate in the nation” for the Hamline Magazine Summer 2020 edition.