The New Jersey Secretary of State, Tahesha Way, visited Montclair State University on National Voter Registration Day to urge students to exercise their civic duty.
National Voter Registration Day was on Sept. 20 and the university participated by signing up voters, a food truck, games on the quad and speeches from Student Government Association (SGA) members, Montclair State President Jonathan Koppell, the CEO of YWCA Northern New Jersey and Way.
Richard Steiner-Otoo, junior earth and environmental science major and SGA president, said the event was a success.
“Tons of students have already registered to vote or have already come up saying that they are registered to vote, which is really exciting and pledged to vote in this upcoming election,” Steiner-Otoo said.
Megan Murnick, a senior family science and human development major and an organizational liaison for the SGA presidential cabinet, explained why the SGA decided to hold this event.
“We have wanted to make sure that voter registration is available to every student on this campus and some students might have a little bit of difficulty knowing how to register or the resources to register,” Murnick said. “So we wanted to make sure that we had a day that could be all about registering to be able to vote so you can have a voice in what is happening around us.”
Murnick also commented on Way’s visit to Montclair State.
“Having the Secretary of State is an amazing honor for everyone at Montclair State to be able to have,” Murnick said. “I can’t even explain in words how awesome it is to have her, [but yeah], I’m really excited to be able to meet her today and be able to hear her words of encouragement for all of us future voters.”
During his speech, Koppell shared his feelings on Way’s visit to Montclair State.
“I’m so excited that we have our Secretary of State here today,” Koppell said. “She’s somebody who’s made it a mission to get people voting in New Jersey and I’m fully on board with that mission.”
Koppell also emphasized that voting is just the beginning.
“Voting is the start, but it’s not the end,” Koppell said.
Way explained why she attended this event.
“We’re here to make certain that everyone has the tools and information they need for this Nov. election,” Way said. “We have seen real momentum in voter registration and turnout over the last few years.”
There are multiple ways to register to vote in New Jersey, including the website vote.nj.gov and a paper form that can be mailed or dropped off at one’s county board of elections office. Way also encouraged registered voters to visit the same website to ensure all of their information is current.
Way emphasized the importance of making sure friends and family are registered as well.
“This is a team sport, my friends and the deadline to get registered to vote is Oct. 18,” Way said.
Way also delved into what’s at stake in this election.
“There’s always something at stake with every election,” Way said. “That’s why we encourage the youth and all voters to make sure that they exercise their right. We’re talking about having your voice heard. We never can say who we’re asking you to vote for, but we just want to ensure that our voters understand that voting is the floor to other rights and privileges and career paths.”
Misinformation and disinformation have become prevalent topics in many recent elections. Way highlighted the importance of factual information regarding elections and voting.
“We of course want our voters to not only vote, but we want to ensure that they understand the facts, the truth about the election process,” Way said. “Voters want confidence and they want to make certain that they feel as though there’s integrity in it at all.”
Way also combated the popular notion that voting does not make a difference.
“It’s very important that we build upon legacies and histories and make sure that everyone understands that they are powerful through their voices at the ballot box,” Way said.