Did you know that to vote in New York State for the presidential election, you have to register 25 days prior to Election Day (that is, on October 9th, which is less than two weeks away)? That the registration deadline varies in other states? That to vote by mail, you need to request an absentee ballot 30 days prior to Election Day? That there is a Vote Early Day, which is being held on Saturday, October 24th?
All of this information, and much more, is available through TC Votes, an initiative to help all members of the Teachers College community — wherever they are based — navigate the voting process and vote safely and securely.
[Visit the TC Votes website for information on how to register, how to vote by absentee ballot and much more.]
“Institutions of higher education are required by law to disseminate information about voting, and TC has helped hundreds of its faculty, students, staff and alumni register in previous years,” says Matthew Camp, TC’s Director of Government Relations, who is leading the TC Votes initiative. “We’re just doing it online now instead of in the first-floor Zankel hallway. But we’re also doubling down on our efforts this year because, with the challenges presented by COVID and the desire by many people to vote in a new location or by mail, the process is much more challenging. Ultimately, our goal is the same: We want to see those numbers go up.”
TC Votes, which is staffed largely by students (Camp says he would love it if more alumni joined) offers online one-on-one walk-through sessions to help people register. There are also weekly open house sessions where members of the TC community can drop in virtually to get help registering to vote. The open houses are on Wednesdays through the November 3rd election: one at 10am EST (register here) and one at 4pm EST (register here). [Read a story about the Constitution Day panel on preventing voter suppression.]
We’re also doubling down on our efforts this year because, with the challenges presented by COVID and the desire by many people to vote in a new location or by mail, the process is much more challenging. Ultimately, our goal is the same: We want to see those numbers go up.
— Matthew Camp, TC's Director of Government Relations
The TC Votes website offers information on: voter registration; absentee ballots; safe voting during the COVID pandemic; access to key resources, including sites that have information on how to serve as a poll worker; information about voter registration in every state; a list of key deadline dates leading up to the election; and even advice about what to bring to the polls when you vote.
“This is such an important election, and I feel it’s so important to be part of the process,” says Brian Ahn, a second-year doctoral student in Adult Learning & Leadership. “I’m from California, but I wanted to register here in New York City, because I plan to be here for a while. I tried to register online, but it was very complicated, and I didn’t think I’d done it correctly. Everyone on the TC Votes team was really helpful in assisting me with the process.”
This is such an important election, and I feel it’s so important to be part of the process...Everyone on the TC Votes team was really helpful in assisting me with the process.
— Brian Ahn, doctoral student in Adult Learning & Leadership
Camp says that TC Votes has refrained from advising people about which voting method (live or by mail) is best. Rather, the initiative’s key message, other than “Vote,” is “be prepared.”
“A really important thing is not just registering to vote, but having a plan to vote,” he says. “Put key dates on your calendar — when you’ll get an absentee ballot, when you’ll return it; or, find your polling site, and determine if you’ll vote early. Because we all tend to do things at the last minute — but the last minute is pretty soon.”