Election Day 2018 dawned gray and rainy, but that didn't dampen the spirit of civic engagement on the Homewood campus Tuesday.
"I feel like I'd have no right to complain about anything unless I vote," said Tim Carlson, a first-year math and physics major who cast an absentee ballot in California. It was his first time voting in an election. "It's something that I've learned is so important, and it took, like, five minutes to register."
This year, the Johns Hopkins community could register via TurboVote, a non-partisan online platform that streamlines the registration and voting processes. The Johns Hopkins student body has students from all 50 states, and TurboVote served as a handy way to keep track of individual state regulations and deadlines. Since launching in January, 2,178 people from the Hopkins community have used the platform to register to vote.
The majority of registrants planned to vote in their home states via absentee ballots, said Misti McKeehen, executive director of the university's Center for Social Concern. A parent of a member of JHU's Class of 2021 donated stamps to the CSC to ensure that no student would miss out on the opportunity to vote for lack of proper postage.
Other students chose to register in Maryland. The CSC arranged for shuttles to transport voters to their polling places during early voting, and today voters could get a free ride to the polls from Lyft.
McKeehen visited her polling place last month to vote early, joining a first-year student who was also voting for the first time.
"The poll workers were so happy and cheered for every first-time voter," McKeehen said. "It was really special to share that experience with her—it made me remember my first time voting in college and navigating that whole process."
The university launched several efforts to get out the vote this fall, including an absentee ballot party, voter education sessions, and registration booths at campus events.
Kristen Alicea-Jorgensen, a first-year molecular and cellular biology major who voted absentee in Arizona, attended one of those parties and was glad to see university leaders and groups organizing around voting.
"It created an atmosphere of celebration around being able to vote," she said. "I've seen and heard so much about the importance of voting, and to finally be able to participate in it was very interesting. It really felt like I was contributing to society, which is very cool."
Adds McKeehen: "Civic engagement doesn't end with this election—we want students to realize they should continue to be engaged and understand what it means to be civically involved in the communities they call home."
Tonight, an election returns watch party will be held in Levering Lounge at 8 p.m. Pizza, snacks, and drinks will be provided. On Wednesday, students can attend two post-election talks hosted on the Homewood campus by LGBTQ Life and the Center for Health Education and Wellness.