With New Jersey’s governor election approaching in a little over a month, Montclair State’s Office of Civic and Voter Engagement held an event to promote National Registration Day at the Student Center quad on Tuesday.
The event featured several registration tents, an “American Gladiators” style plush arena, a stilt-walking Uncle Sam and most notably, an actual voting booth to demonstrate to students the actual process of casting a ballot.
Operating in conjunction with Commuter Life Appreciation week, New York Red Bulls tents also offered entertainment, via the latest release of the FIFA 18 video game, along with tickets and prizes.
“Last year, there was a lot of attention because of the presidential election,” said Mariel Pagan, Director for the Center of Student Involvement. “We’ve been finding, in registering students this semester, that many don’t know about the coming gubernatorial election.”
In organizing this event, Pagan said her main goal is to increase student awareness for state and local elections and encourage civic involvement at the local level. Through collaborating with the Office of Commuter Student Programs and Services, Pagan also aimed to keep up the momentum from last year’s election and get a larger amount of students.
“It’s important that students are aware of the state and local elections, as we are a state institution, and these issues will directly affect students,” Pagan said. “By having both of these events at the same time, we’re hoping it will make this the epicenter for the day and draw more students.”
Organizers in place walked students through the registration and voting process using new techniques to streamline them, such as offering sheets with addresses pre-filled out for residents of the campus.
The Andrew Goodman Foundation (AGF) was also present at the event with ambassadors, which included Amir Botros, a senior double majoring in jurisprudence and political science. Founded by Goodman’s parents after his murder by the Ku Klux Klan alongside two fellow civil rights activists in Mississippi, the foundation is a nationwide organization promoting civic activity and voting registration throughout the nation. According to Botros, AGF and the Civic and Voter Engagement on campus have registered approximately 4,000 students over the past two years.
“I think this is a good event for the campus, especially because figuring out the process to do everything is difficult for people who’ve moved here from home,” said senior biology major Lexie Morin. “Also I think campus alerts through texts would have been a good way to keep people informed about this. Outside the quad I didn’t really hear about this as I don’t really check my emails. I will say, the inflatable arena is a funny touch. It’s something that makes you curious and [it’s] a good draw.”
Many students supported the event, but expressed similar thoughts on its promotion.
“Using Snapchat, Instagram or even Twitter, I think would have been a really good idea, only cause I honestly don’t think people check their MSU emails since we get so many,” said senior exercise science major John Yanez.
“I think its cool that they’re giving them a non-partisan platform, to get people to vote even if they’re not necessarily political,” said senior psychology major Ward Hablawi. “It’s sort of a way to get past the apathy that people have about this sort of thing.”