Emory Votes: University to provide shuttles to nearby polling places

By John Baker Brown | Emory Report | Nov. 1, 2018

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On Election Day, Nov. 6, Emory will provide shuttle transportation for students, staff and faculty who are exercising one of the most foundational rights of citizenship in our democracy: the right to vote.

On Election Day, Emory encourages students, staff and faculty to exercise one of the most foundational rights of citizenship in our democracy: the right to vote. 

Many Emory undergraduate students have recently reached voting age and will be casting a ballot for the first time this year. Others have voted in previous elections but consider this year’s midterms to be of special, even historic, significance.

“Many of us lead very busy lives planned down to the minute. But we must always make time for the important things in our lives,” says Lori Steffel, an Emory sophomore who serves as speaker of the Student Government Association legislature. “The results of this election will impact us for years to come. There is nothing more important that we could do next Tuesday than to participate in our democracy and vote to ensure that our voices are heard.” 

On Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6, the Emory Votes initiative will offer shuttle transportation for members of the university community who are registered to vote at any one of five designated polling places in the vicinity of Emory’s Druid Hills campus.

“Emory Votes eliminates obstacles to voting, something all institutions should do,” says Julia Bittencourt, a senior with a double major in international studies and philosophy. “Voting translates into policy-making, which impacts all our lives and the lives of our loved ones.”

Although Bittencourt lives off-campus and drives, she says she is likely to take a shuttle from campus for the convenience and for the camaraderie of sharing the experience with other Emory students. 

Polling places are open between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Election Day. Shuttle buses displaying Emory Votes signage will operate on a continuous basis from 6:45 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voters may board shuttles at Woodruff Circle and return to that location.

To vote at one of the polling places on the Emory Votes shuttle route on Election Day, a voter must be registered at that location, per state law. Voters may confirm their voting status and polling place on the Georgia Secretary of State website.

Although the university is providing transportation on Election Day, voters are encouraged to vote early when possible. Reports compare early voter turnout this year to 2016, a banner year for voting nationwide, with turnout expected to also be very high on Election Day. A number of early voting locations are provided for DeKalb County voters on this website

The importance of voting

Emory Votes follows a voter education and registration drive hosted at numerous campus venues from August through October, supported by multiple university organizations and individuals. The drive helped hundreds of students to register and provided information for many others. 

Like the registration drive, Emory Votes represents a broad partnership, according to David Clark, associate vice president of Campus Life.

“We are delighted to partner with the provost’s office, political science faculty, the undergraduate and graduate student government associations, transportation and other organizations on the Emory Votes campaign,” Clark says. “In the spirit of One Emory, this effort encourages students and all members of our university community to exercise the right to vote and help shape the future of our state, nation and world.” 

Emory’s commitment to encouraging students to vote, regardless of their political views, reflects the university’s tradition of nurturing students who become leaders in their professions and communities, as well as the nation and world, according to Alex Bolton, assistant professor of political science. 

“Voting is an important way for students to participate in the political process and can serve as a foundation for broader engagement here in the metro community and beyond,” says Bolton.

“I am encouraged by the growing interest in civic engagement among people across the political spectrum – especially young people,” he adds. “Voting is a tangible expression of our support for our democratic institutions.”

Sydney Kaplan 19L, president of the Graduate Student Government Association (GSGA), agrees.

“Young people are the future of this country, so it is critical that their voices are heard by our elected officials. The best way to make sure our voices are heard is by going to the polls,” she explains. “I want to encourage all students to vote.” 

Three steps to be ready for Election Day

The University Senate is also conducting “Get Out the Vote” efforts to encourage faculty, staff and students to vote. 

The governance group is distributing flyers encouraging the campus community to take three easy steps:

1. Find your polling location. Use the Georgia Secretary of State’s My Voter Page to confirm you are registered, find early voting locations and find your polling place for Election Day.

2. Create your voting plan. If you are voting early in-person, try to take advantage of scheduled days off. If you requested a mail-in absentee ballot, mail it back as soon as possible, because ballots must be received by Election Day. Or plan to vote in-person on Nov. 6.

3. Vote! Remember to bring your government-issued photo ID. If your polling place is served by Emory Votes shuttles, decide if you are going to use this amenity or take other transportation to the polls. If you are an Emory employee, know that Emory’s Voting Policy allows requests for time off up to two hours to be considered if your work schedule would prevent you from voting. And if poll workers notify you of unexpected issues with your ability to vote, ask for a provisional ballot.

“The theme for the University Senate this year is ‘Engagement & Visibility,’” says Jason Schneider, president of the University Senate and an associate professor in the School of Medicine. “The leadership of the Senate viewed a Get Out the Vote campaign as a timely and impactful project that complemented our focus for the year, encouraging our constituents to engage in our collective civic duty.”