Emory University’s Atlanta campus will be DeKalb County’s official voting location. Voters can start using 1599 Clifton Road, an Emory administrative office near the Emory Conference Center Hotel, as a polling location when early voting opens on May 2.
In past elections, student voters carpooled from campus to locations such as Agnes Scott College (Ga.) for early voting. Additionally, Young Democrats of Emory Political Director Josh Beskind (23C) said that Emory’s student voter turnout rate was 45.4% in 2018, despite 79.5% being registered to vote.
“It’s really awesome news that students can just walk right across the street, or right down campus, and vote in the primaries in May and also for the full election in November,” Beskind said.
For Georgia voters, primary election day is May 24. Critical races include a U.S. Senate seat, which is currently occupied by Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), up for reelection. Warnock’s most notable opponent is former NFL running back Herschel Walker, who is running as a Republican.
Georgia’s governorship is also up for reelection. Current Georgia Governor Brain Kemp, who is Republican, is running to retain the position. His most notable opponents include former U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Stacey Abrams, who ran against and lost to Kemp in the 2018 governor’s race.
As one of Emory Votes Initiative’s (EVI) main goals is to increase civic engagement, EVI Program Coordinator Hannah Joy Gebresilassie said that EVI is partnering with the University’s President’s Office and DeKalb County to help bolster voting accessibility.
Gebresilassie emphasized that the Emory community should take advantage of having a polling site on campus, which she called a privilege.
“This is the opportunity to let people know that there is a polling site literally in your back door,” Gebresilassie said. “Let’s show up, and let’s vote.”
As a non-partisan organization, EVI’s initiatives extend beyond Georgia voters and encourages people to vote, regardless of their party or state of residence. For non-Georgia voters, EVI aims to ensure that students have the voter information they need for their respective states.
“This moment is giving us the springboard to jump off of, and allow us to build continued excitement around voting and getting involved,” Gebresilassie said. “Elections don’t just happen every four years. They happen every other year, in the midterms, so we want to make sure people show up for all of them.”
Young Democrats of Emory will be focused on voter turnout and registration in the fall 2022 semester, Beskind said. He emphasized the incoming first-years’ vitality to their goals.
“The time between when they get here and November is really crucial because we want to make sure they get registered early enough to vote in the election,” Beskind said. “It goes hand in hand with a lot of the work we’re doing, and it makes everything a little bit easier to know that… students are just able to vote on Emory’s campus.”
Emory College Republicans Chairman Robert Schmad (23C) said that having a polling place on campus will be useful in turning out the conservative population on campus, but said “on the net, it’s probably not a good thing for Georgia.”
“I’m not a huge fan of getting a bunch of kids from New York, New Jersey, California, coming to Georgia and voicing their opinions in a place they’re transient,” Schmad said. “Most of the people who go here don’t really spend the majority of their lives in Georgia.”
In lieu of the upcoming primaries, EVI will host two events to highlight the key dates for Georgia voters. They will hold an early voting kickoff celebration on April 27 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Asbury Circle, as well as provide giveaways and voter information in the 1599 building lobby on April 29.
Additionally, Gebresilassie’s team is programming events, organizing volunteers and helping the recruitment of poll workers.
“I can’t stress enough the importance of storytelling and informing people about election dates and informational resources,” Gebresilassie said. “This is a really big deal for the community, and for Emory to see what’s possible for this election and for elections to come.”