Author: Nicole Guzman
Happy Election Day! The US presidential election of 2016 is about to come to an end. Instead of focusing on the presidential candidates who have been busy with their campaigns, I will shift the focus to the cohort of students enrolled in the Political Participation (POLS 108) course at San José State. This course is taught by Professor Mary Currin-Percival who is a strong believer in experiential learning. Get Out The Vote (GOTV) is the perfect project geared towards experiential learning, which required the students to design a voter registration and mobilization project directed to reach out to residents within the South University Neighborhood (SUN).
We were able to connect the students with other local organizations that share similar goals and approaches for community engagement. The first is PACT, a grassroots organization that focuses on providing: “leadership training and experience to community members of many ethnic, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds.” The second organization is Sunday Friends which seeks to empower: “families to break the generational cycle of poverty by fostering positive development in children while educating and guiding parents to support their children’s life success. Children and parents work together to learn, earn and serve the community”.
Most importantly, the students coordinating with CommUniverCity, PACT, and Sunday Friends were given the opportunity to create voter registration and mobilization projects that would include all residents including the Latino community members. Connecting with the Latino community members was an important goal for the students because this ethnic group is typically underrepresented in elections.
The cohort of 14 students worked on multiple voter registration and mobilization projects. For instance, they set up a voter registration table at Sunday Friends to register parents.
Second, they attended SUN’s Halloween Social to play a voting game with the kids and take photos of them wearing masks of past presidents. The voting game required the kids to choose their favorite candy-date (pun intended): M&M’s or Snickers. Maya, a local resident and parent stated: “Loved the voting booth-such a cute idea!! M&M’s win by a landslide!!”
They also lead the California Initiative Forum and hosted two presidential debate viewing parties. The last event hosted by the students was an Election Eve Chalk event in SUN. Besides the cohort from POLS 108, students from other political science courses participated as well. They created chalk art on sidewalks to point residents to the nearest polling places.
Overall, this impressive group of students were able to apply what they learned in class and gain valuable experience and lessons in creating voter registration and mobilization projects.
Together we were able to GET OUT THE VOTE!
Partners for Get Out The Vote: