The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Student organizations lead Vanderbilt’s largest-ever voter registration drive

BSAG and Vandy Votes co-host event with university to encourage students to #AnchorYourVote on National Voter Registration Day.
Emery Little
Paths diverge near Alumni Lawn. (Hustler Multimedia/Emery Little)

Vanderbilt celebrated National Voter Registration Day with a historically large voter registration drive on Tuesday, Sept. 22, with more than 170 students attending the event at Vanderbilt Stadium, according to the Office of Active Citizenship & Service.

Between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. CDT, volunteers checked participants in on the football field and walked individuals through TurboVote, an online voter registration platform, with multiple QR codes available to connect participants to additional resources.

The drive was hosted by the student organizations Black Student Athlete Group (BSAG) and Vandy Votes as well as Vanderbilt Athletics and the Dean of Students Office. 

“We were having a lot of conversations dealing with what we can do, because we saw everything on the news,” Vice President of BSAG senior Cameron Robinson said. “How we can not only make people aware but actually do something that puts some action behind our words.”

Voter registration poster
Vanderbilt student organizations promote voter registration drive at Vanderbilt Stadium with flyers posted around campus. (Hustler Staff/Madeline King)

After BSAG reached out to Vandy Votes over the summer, the two groups worked with Vanderbilt Athletics to move previously planned small-scale drives into one school-wide event on the football field. About 60 volunteers turned up throughout the day, with 146 individuals requesting voting assistance through TurboVote according to Office of Active Citizenship & Service advisor Meagan Smith. Robinson also said that dozens more attendees were able to access resources including paper ballots, absentee ballots and other information.

“It was better than what we expected, especially because we knew going in that the numbers weren’t going to be up in the thousands because of COVID,” Robinson said. “As far as the hard work and everything that we put into it—with it being student-led—I think that it was great. We set a record. So we’re making history during COVID.”

To account for social distancing guidelines, attendees were required to register for a 20-minute time slot in advance and use contactless check-in. Inside the stadium, all participants strictly followed Vanderbilt’s COVID-19 policies, with tables spaced along the length of the field to promote physical distancing.

“I think [the event] was pretty good,”first-year Ashley Fang said, who registered to vote for the first time at the event. “It’s obviously following the COVID guidelines and social distancing. [The volunteers were] really helpful in making sure everything was clear, and they had all the information that we needed.”

The event allowed students to register both for the first time as well as update registration from another state, offering students a straightforward path to participate in local politics.

“The mass of information that’s online is hard to sift through,” sophomore Bleu Gray said. “[The event] went really smoothly and answered a lot of my questions like transferring my voter status over to the state of Tennessee.”

In 2018, 64.5 percent of eligible Vanderbilt students were registered to vote, more than two percent less than the national average for institutions. The same year, 37.7 percent of students actually voted. For Robinson, Lavey and their co-hosts, the registration drive was only a step in a longer journey to eliminate as many hurdles as possible in students’ voting processes and increase local voter turnout.

“Our ultimate motivation is to empower the student vote and get as many students registered and aware of what that looks like, whether they want to do that in their home states [or] in Tennessee,” Vandy Votes co-president junior Frances Lavey said. 

With the registration drive completed, Lavey, Robinson and others will continue working to help Tennessee voters with early and absentee voting. The BSAG will also be continuing their initiative, Operation Lift Every Voice and Vote, and will be shifting their focus from registration to education and transportation as the election approaches.

“Our goal this year is to create an environment of civic engagement and an environment of everybody being involved and trying to empower and enfranchise as many of our students and student populations as possible,” Lavey said.

TurboVote QR Code
Students can still register to vote by scanning QR codes on “Let’s Vote” stickers linking to the TurboVote registration site located around campus. (Hustler Staff/Madeline King)
Leave a comment
About the Contributors
Madeline King
Madeline King, Former Staff Writer
Madeline King ('24) is from the Bay Area, California, studying communication of science and technology. In her free time, she loves exploring (and eating) in Nashville. You can reach her at [email protected].
Emery Little
Emery Little, Former Social Media Director
Emery Little (‘22) is from Birmingham, AL. She majored in communication of science and technology and Spanish. In her free time, she loves to design graphics, follow tech news and run her photography business. She can be reached at [email protected].
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Vanderbilt Hustler welcomes and encourages readers to engage with content and express opinions through the comment sections on our website and social media platforms. The Hustler reserves the right to remove comments that contain vulgarity, hate speech, personal attacks or that appear to be spam, commercial promotion or impersonation. The comment sections are moderated by our Editor-in-Chief, Rachael Perrotta, and our Social Media Director, Chloe Postlewaite. You can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected].
All The Vanderbilt Hustler picks Reader picks Sort: Newest
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments