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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Student groups organize around midterm elections

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An informational postcard and packet about the 2022 midterm elections are pictured in Barnum Hall, home of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, on Oct. 30.

Leading up to the midterm elections, Tufts political groups have organized across campus, urging their peers to head to the voting booths.

Tufts Democrats has been canvassing for a variety of causes, including “Yes on 1” which would apply a 4% surtax on personal income exceeding $1 million annually, and “Yes on 4” which would allow state residents to obtain driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status.

In addition, Tufts Democrats has been phone banking, holding discussions about the midterms and collaborating with other chapters of college Democrats for their canvassing initiatives. Tufts Republicans declined to comment on their midterms activities.

Mark Lannigan, the president of Tufts Democrats, is optimistic that the Democrats can turn out in substantial numbers on Nov. 8. He points to relatively high early vote totals and an increase in voter participation in recent years.

“What’s really been inspiring has been youth turnout, which we’ve seen increase pretty astronomically since 2016 and even 2018 and 2020,” Lannigan told the Daily. “Youth turnout has always been on the rise, and it's continuing to be on the rise now.”

Lannigan also notes that emotionally charged issues like abortion provide reasons to be hopeful that people will vote in these midterms.

“What a lot of our membership is concerned about is what would happen if Congress flips to a very radical Republican party that has already said that they would support a national abortion ban [and] that would look into overturning the election,” Lannigan said. “I think the Supreme Court [and] abortion have been really scary issue areas that people have been motivated by to make sure [Democrats] maintain a majority.”

Tufts J Street U, which supports a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, has endorsed a slate of anti-occupation candidates for the midterms and hosted phone and text banks to garner support for their candidates. 

Junior Violet Kopp, a co-chair of Tufts J Street U, urged students to vote in the midterms.

“Elections can feel really draining [and] removed and bureaucratic and frustrating, but think about abortion rights,” Kopp said in an interview with the Daily. “This country is looking really dangerous right now, and it could really easily flip and take a turn in the direction that we don’t want it to go down. If your vote is one thing that even might affect [the outcome], you might as well do it.”

J Street U’s candidate slate, titled “4-in-4,” highlights their goal to elect four candidates in the four weeks before the election. According to Kopp, J Street took each candidates’ entire agenda into consideration during the section process.

“We support these candidates as [an] anti-occupation club because they’re anti-occupation, but they’re also pro-abortion and pro-gun control and they believe in climate justice,” Kopp said. “For so many people, there’s something to get behind about these candidates.”

Kopp elaborated on J Street’s holistic evaluation of candidates.

“While our focus is Israel-Palestine, we recognize the intersectionality of issues and know that … the way that we do peaceful and just and demilitarized diplomacy is so related to gun violence prevention, and to ending police brutality and to climate justice,” Kopp said. 

Neelan Martin, a sophomore member of Tufts Young Democratic Socialists of America, expressed enthusiasm about YDSA’s organizing efforts with a focus on local issues. 

Martin pointed out that while this is YDSA’s first full year as a TCU recognized club, it has kicked off a free laundry for Tufts campaign and collaborated with Defund Somerville Police Department, Mutual Aid for Medford and Somerville and have advocated for “Yes on 1” in Massachusetts.

Tufts ACTION, a student-run group that promotes civic action in greater Boston, hosted a letter-writing event on Oct. 21 in which they partnered with Vote Forward to comprise a list of voters in swing states who are at risk of not voting and wrote letters encouraging them to vote.

Sophomore Alison Cedarbaum and senior Danielle Piccoli detailed ACTION’s nonpartisan efforts to educate future voters who are too young to vote in these elections, while highlighting the importance of immediate engagement for the midterms just around the corner.

“[We’re] very focused around civic empowerment and making sure that both young people in the Tufts community, as well as people in the broader surrounding community who will be able to vote in a few years … have other ways of making their voices heard,” Cedarbaum said.

JumboVote has been tabling in the Campus Center to help students register to vote and provide voting information to mitigate barriers to voting in these upcoming midterms. Junior Safi Chalfin-Smith, a co-chair of JumboVote, detailed how JumboVote is working to increase voter turnout. 

“I think [the midterms are] missing in the conversation on campus, especially compared to 2020,” Chalfin-Smith said. “[In 2020], everyone was talking about the election, whereas now, I don’t think it’s as big of a topic. … Once we say, ‘There is an election, this is what’s going to be on the ballot, and this is why it’s important,’ people are definitely receptive.”

JumboVote will be offering rides to polling stations from the campus center on election day in addition to hosting an election watch party with other Tisch-affiliated groups.

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