Northwestern students get involved in upcoming midterm elections


Daily file illustration by Gemma DeCetra

Northwestern students are getting politically involved prior to the midterm elections by volunteering for candidates and helping out-of-state students acquire absentee ballots.

Seren Park, Reporter

With the 2022 midterm elections approaching, Northwestern students are getting involved by volunteering for candidates and helping out-of-state students acquire absentee ballots. 

All 435 House of Representatives seats, 34 Senate positions and 36 governorships are on the ballot Nov. 8. Eighty-five percent of state legislative seats are also on the ballot. Some political groups on campus are focusing their efforts toward local Illinois and Evanston races, while some students are working on races in their home states. 

NU College Democrats is doing outreach for U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Naperville) of Illinois’ 14th Congressional District. The club held a phone-banking event in late September and will host a canvassing event on Oct. 22. At the October event, members plan to campaign door to door in Underwood’s district, according to Medill senior and College Democrats Public Relations Director Ben Chasen. 

“With such important issues like climate change, reproductive rights — all those things on the line — we think it’s really important to make sure people get the opportunity to have their feet on the ground and knock on some doors and really get the opportunity to make a difference,” Chasen said.

College Democrats will also host Mayor Daniel Biss for a “Crash Course for Evanston Politics” on Oct. 18, where he will talk to students about state government, big issues on the ballot and the recent history of Evanston.

NU College Republicans did not respond to The Daily’s request for an interview before publication. 

Some students are also getting involved in out-of-state midterm elections, such as SESP sophomore Valerie Lippin from Westchester County, New York. Lippin is currently interning remotely for state Sen. John Brooks’ (D-NY) reelection campaign for text- and phone-banking voters in the 8th Senate District. 

Lippin helps constituents make voting plans or vote absentee by directing them to more personalized support and resources.

“I really want to encourage people to vote absentee,” Lippin said. “I think it’s really important to exercise your civic duty, and young people are historically underrepresented in voter-turnout populations.” 

Just 50% of voters aged 18 to 29 voted in the 2020 presidential election, and about 40% voted in the 2016 election, according to a Tufts University study.

For students who are eligible to vote but live out of state, absentee ballots are an alternative way to vote. Absentee ballots are collected before Election Day, and while their rules vary by state, voters generally can apply for an absentee ballot that will be mailed to them, which they can return in person or by mail after they mark it. 

Medill freshman Justin Price said he will be voting absentee in his home state of Kentucky. Price said he was surprised there were so many on-campus organizations helping students register to vote.

Among the campus voting resources available to students is the Center for Civic Engagement. The center’s programs, like NU Votes, have online tools and in-person services that help students register to vote, change or update their registration or request an absentee ballot.

“It seems that student organizations at Northwestern have been active in advertising to students on campus to connect them to resources,” Price said.

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​​— NU College Democrats hosts former NYC mayoral candidate Maya Wiley