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2018 Midterm Election Season

October 2, 2018

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,

Did you know that only 16.9% of eligible Swarthmore students voted in the 2014 midterm election? That’s below the already-low national average of 19.1% for that year (see the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement from Tufts University).

Given the College’s longstanding commitment to civic engagement last year I convened a nonpartisan committee of faculty, staff, and students to examine student turnout and develop a plan for increasing it.

I want to thank the committee for its ongoing efforts, especially the work they will do in the coming weeks and on Election Day, Tuesday, November 6. Here are a few things you can do:

1. Register to vote if you are eligible and have not yet done so. If you have registered, check your registration status to be sure it is correct. The PA registration deadline is October 9. Remember, if you are a student voting in Swarthmore, you must include the name of your residence hall when registering.

2. Identify a “voting buddy” and hold each other accountable for getting to the polls or mailing your ballot. This is a great way for those who are ineligible to vote to participate in the process.

3. If you don’t feel informed enough to vote, talk with faculty, staff, students, or others you know who may have more information. Visit candidates’ websites and read their positions on the issues that you care about most.

4. Attend “Do Congressional Elections Matter? (Um, Yeah!)” on Wednesday, October 24 at 4:30 p.m. in Sci 101, especially if you believe that your vote doesn’t matter. Congressional scholars Frances Lee of the University of Maryland and Swarthmore alum Patrick Egan ’92 of New York University will share why it does.

5. Be sure to vote! If you vote locally, make sure you know which polling location to go to. If you are a student registered at home and are unable to return to vote in person, request your absentee ballot today.

Be a pro-active agent for change this November 6. On Election Day, if you vote locally, rides to the polls will be available. And everyone will be treated to food trucks and other festive activities.


Valerie Smith


"You are always an agent. When you don't act, you act. When you don't vote, you vote.”  -- Tony Kushner