In this blog post, Voting Ambassador Libby Foley shares an overview of the Voting Ambassador program at the University of Mississippi. The VA program is an initiative of the Voting Engagement Roundtable, a coalition of faculty, staff, and students working to advance voter registration, education, and engagement. It is sponsored by the Office of Community Engagement.
While some of you reading this may have heard of our program, the Voter Ambassador Program, it may not be clear to you exactly what we do and how we conduct our operations. This blog post is designed to demystify our program and explain exactly who we are, exactly what we do, and our goals for the future.
Firstly, the Voter Ambassador Program is a non-partisan team of students whose goal is to not only educate people on voting and voting policies, but also to advocate for increased voter participation and engagement. The Voting Ambassador program is an initiative of the university’s voting engagement roundtable, a collaborative group of faculty, staff, and student leaders working to institutionalize and advance voter registration, education, and turnout across campus. The group is advised by Under the advisement of Erin L. Payseur Oeth, the assistant director of community partnerships and facilitator for the university voting engagement roundtable, and team leader Jaycee Brown. , this team conducts various projects and plans in order to handle this undertaking.
Specifically, there are two sides of our team: education and advocacy. The education team focuses primarily on educating people on their right to vote and the steps it takes to be able to exercise that right. The advocacy team, led by the Andrew Goodman Foundation representatives, focuses on advocating for voting rights and educating people on voter suppression, in a non-partisan manner.
While these are lofty, broad goals, our team has undertaken specific tasks and projects designed to address these larger goals of our program. Specifically, this past fall semester, the first semester of our program, we conducted numerous strategies that helped us increase voter engagement around campus. The following tasks were completed this fall:
- Completed mandatory training on voter registration and voting procedures
- Held weekly meetings to discuss and strategize
- Held office hours for students to attend and ask us questions or for help
- Presented at numerous classes to encourage people to register and to vote in the presidential election
- Helped students register to vote
- Helped students develop a voting plan
- Facilitated discussions between students over zoom after the Presidential and Vice Presidential Debates
- Wrote blog posts about various voting topics
- Interacted on social media and campaigned via this media to encourage voting
- Hosted webinar on the statewide initiatives on the 2020 November ballot
- Facilitated transportation from campus to polls
With all these tasks completed in our first semester, our program hit the ground running in regards to the voter engagement effort. This spring semester, we expanded our efforts to include directed efforts towards education and advocacy, thus splitting the Voter Ambassador Program into two sections. Furthermore, we have worked to expand our knowledge of specific voting issues, as our members are working to create individual Issue Area Briefs about their chosen topic, in order to educate people on voting issues within our country, and more specifically, in Mississippi. With this in mind, here are some of our spring accomplishments so far, as this list continues to grow as the semester goes on:
- Weekly meetings to discuss and strategize
- Program split into Voter Education and Voter Advocacy teams
- Andrew Goodman Foundation (AGF) representatives lead the Voter Advocacy team
- Voter Advocacy Team led discussion on “The Right to Vote – A Conversation on Voter Rights and Suppression”
- Issue Area Briefs being developed
- Outreach to Organizations on Campus
- University of Mississippi designated a Voter-Friendly Campus
The Voter Ambassador team is here to serve you, the students and constituents at the University of Mississippi. Our goal is to encourage and aid in voter engagement, and we hope to further our efforts over the coming years. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how our team can assist you and your voting needs!
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