Class of 2022: Daisy Lane, helping students vote

There is a common misconception about student voting that, after four years of deep engagement on the issue, Daisy Lane wants to clear up: Students are not politically apathetic.

“College students vote at lower rates than most other age groups, and the general perception is that they care less, but that’s not true,” said Lane, a public policy and history student who worked with the group. student voting. Duke vows.

“The idea is that they’re only on campus for four years, their home is somewhere else, and there’s a lot of student apathy. But I have spent much of my four years here talking to students about politics and voting and what has always been clear is that students care a lot and want to vote.”

However, there are several factors depressing student voting, Lane said. Through DukeVotes, she and other students played valuable roles in helping students overcome those obstacles, particularly during the 2020 election.

There is no conspiracy, but it is true that the electoral rules seem specially designed to be complicated for students. In this year’s election, freshmen living on East Campus will vote at a Durham polling location, while during the fall general election, they will have to vote at a different site once they move to West Campus. . That’s assuming they remember to re-register to vote after they move, and assuming they remember to put their campus mailing address on the registration form in addition to their campus address. Not entering a student’s mailing address is one of the main reasons student ballots are rejected.

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“A lot of people don’t understand how confusing the voting process can be for a college student,” Lane said, adding that student votes have a higher-than-average rejection rate. “Most of the students are voting for the first time, they are away from their home community and they have to figure out where to vote, how to vote and the many steps involved. Particularly for new voters, logistics can be a deterrent.”

But an even more important factor may be intimidation, though not the kind of electoral intimidation that makes headlines. Lane said that as much as students want to vote, many confess deep anxiety about voting for offices they haven’t delved into the candidates. Students, she said, feel more comfortable when they “have a paradigm of knowledge.”

“I spent a lot of time asking students why they don’t vote, and the biggest response is that they don’t feel ‘very informed’ about all the candidates,” he said. “We hope to have this kind of knowledge and not knowing how to get it can make voting intimidating.”

During past national and local elections, DukeVotes has helped students overcome these obstacles by providing resources to help them maneuver through voter registration and meet the candidates.

It has been a success story, based on student participation and strong turnout at early voting sites on campus. In the 2020 election, 12,694 voters cast ballots at the Duke early voting site, setting the record for the campus site. Election officials attributed the figures to the efforts of DukeVotes and other university groups.

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A Charlotte native whose taste for politics began at a young age following the interests of her politically minded mother, Lane came to Duke looking to incorporate political activism into her studies. She found her niche after a meeting with BJ Rudell, then associate director of Polis, a center for political leadership at the Sanford School of Public Policy.

Hearing of her interest in voting issues, Rudell directed her to DukeVotes. There she found a group of students led by Jessica Sullivan who shared her passion.

“I came in as someone very interested in politics and thinking of it as a career, but what I loved about DukeVotes is that I would be with engineers, computer scientists, others from other careers that had no direct connection to politics. What we share is that everyone felt very passionate about the right to vote nonpartisan.

“And many of us are women. One of my friends was very business-oriented, but she was passionate about creating a space for women to talk about politics without being talked about.”

Lane is politically inclined, but believes in building bridges and talking to people with different beliefs. Both at DukeVotes and in her classes on politics and public policy, she had extensive experience speaking with voters from across the political spectrum.

“That’s important to me. One of the things Professor Peck talked about was establishing yourself as an open, nonjudgmental person. Give a little grace to the person you are talking to. He understands that if they offend you, they don’t do it to hurt you, but because it stems from his lived experiences. If you show grace, it’s amazing how often people open up, even if they don’t agree with you.”

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Lane’s ultimate plan is to attend law school, but immediately after graduation, she will move to Seattle, where she will work as a consulting career analyst for Mercer.