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Student activism yields high numbers at polls

  • Vote 2012
    Vote 2012
    Volunteer Caper Gooden '16 spent the morning handing out sample ballots and asking students, “Do you know your address on campus? Do you have a photo ID?”
    Photos by Stephen Salpukas
  • Vote 2012
    Vote 2012
    Freshman Stephanie Lauterbach was one of more than 600 students who registered to vote this fall thanks to the efforts of the Student Assembly voter-registration drive.
  • Vote 2012
    Vote 2012
    Students flocked to the Jamestown United Methodist Church to vote on Election Day. Roughly 1,600 new W&M students registered to vote in Williamsburg this fall.
  • Vote 2012
    Vote 2012
    Zachary Woodward ’14, director of this year’s Student Assembly voter registration drive, said the organization has been working since the beginning of the semester to register students to vote locally.

Hark upon the Ballot Box.

Freshman Stephanie Lauterbach left her math class at Jones Hall Tuesday morning and walked directly across the street to Jamestown United Methodist Church to cast her vote in the 2012 presidential election.

Lauterbach, 18, from Chesapeake, Va., could have requested an absentee ballot. Instead, she chose to sign up for voter registration in her college hometown.

“Since I’m going be at William & Mary and here in the community for the next four years, I’d rather vote about the local issues,” she said.

Lauterbach was one of more than 600 students who registered to vote this fall thanks to the efforts of the Student Assembly voter-registration drive. Today, the SA continued their efforts by providing students with information and transportation to the polls.

“Since William & Mary students got the right to vote in Williamsburg in 2006 the Student Assembly has been working with students to educate them on how and where to vote,” said Zachary Woodward ’14, director of this year’s SA voter registration drive. 

All semester until the end of October the Student Assembly held voter registration drives throughout campus, he said. They also worked with other organizations, such as fraternities and sororities, to help spread the world.

“This year has been an overwhelming positive response,” said Woodward. “Students are very thankful for the information we provide, specifically ID requirements and addresses for their dorms.”

Other student organizations also worked throughout the semester to register students to vote. One thousand more students signed up through the W&M Obama and Romney campaigns, The Young Democrats, The College Republicans and Students for Liberty, increasing the total of new W&M students registered to vote in Williamsburg to roughly 1,600.

On Election Day, the organizations saw their work come to fruition as students headed to the polls. The Student Assembly also provided vans to transport students to the community center poll, and volunteers provided last-minute information to student voters.

Freshman Caper Gooden from Richmond, Va., stood outside the church where Lauterbach voted, handing out sample ballots and asking students, “Do you know your address on campus? Do you have a photo ID?”

“The number one question I get is ‘what’s my address on campus?’” said Gooden. “Most students don’t know the physical address of their dorm, but that’s one of the questions they ask you to vote.”

Lauterbach said she learned of her option to vote locally during a student activity fair held on campus. 

“It’s easier and very accessible,” said Lauterbach. “It wasn’t intimidating at all and everyone with the Student Assembly was very helpful. I felt very comfortable getting help from students my age.”