By Karla Fonseca
The College hosted the kickoff for the 2022 NJ Ballot Bowl on Sept. 20, with special guest New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way, as well as a number of public officials and students from other universities, including Princeton University, Georgian Court University, Centenary University and Kean University.
The Ballot Bowl, which began on Sept. 1, is a year-long competition designed to increase voter participation and encourage civic engagement. The rankings for the Ballot Bowl are determined by the complete total of voter registrations and pledges, as a percentage of student enrollment at the university. The College won the 2021 Ballot Bowl, which is why Secretary Way and students from other New Jersey universities came for the event.
The event was hosted in the Brower Student Center, with food and refreshments provided. Accompanying the event was a voter registration booth, with the intent of gathering pledges to vote and encourage registration. The hour-long event included speeches from President Kathryn Foster, Secretary Way, Vice President of Governmental Affairs Jared Williams and John Lewis Youth Leadership Award recipient Sonia Leo.
After the speeches, Brittany Aydelotte, director of the Community Engaged Learning Institute, and Avani Rana, director of leadership in the Division of Student Affairs, shared important voting information with the audience. They are both co-chairs for TCNJ Votes Initiatives.
“This is a call of action,” Rana said. “We want you to encourage your peers, encourage others to participate in voting.”
“Since you live in this country, you want to make sure that what you believe should be happening or what you feel strongly about is represented,” said freshman English and secondary education major Catherine Gonzalez. “I think it's important for every person to vote, no matter who you are, so you at least have a say so that when the results come out, it's a representation of what all the people want.”
Executive President of Student Government and senior political science major Dylan Chidick also attended the event.
“As we saw from the data, many people in our age range 18 to 24 do not go out to vote,” Chidick said. “It’s important to have conversations like these and programs like these where people can come, get informed, and make sure that they are doing their civic duty, voting, and being the change you want to see.”
Upcoming events on campus that serve to increase student voting are a movie screening of “Good Trouble” on Oct. 3, a paint and sip for a voting discussion on Oct. 4, a panel discussion on the importance of voting in local elections on Oct. 6, a movie screening of “Slaying the Dragon” on Oct. 6 and a leadership live on Instagram on Oct. 7.
People can register to vote until Oct. 18 for the upcoming election. For more information about how and when to vote, please visit TCNJ Votes.