To: All Students
From: Melissa Van Der Wall, Dean of Students/Vice President for Student Well-being & Dylan Heffernan, Assistant Director for We Care & Civic Engagement
Date: November 2, 2023
Election Day is Tuesday, November 7th and we write to encourage you to participate in this important democratic process. We know that you are likely thinking about issues such as the economy and inflation, immigration, jobs, reproductive rights, climate change, health care, racial justice, LGBTQ+ rights, student debt, and more. We encourage you to think about the type of leadership you want in office and exercise your right to vote. Vote411 serves as a resource for you to understand who is on your ballot.
You might be thinking whether your vote matters. Please consider that there have been elections where single votes determined the outcome. If you do not vote, others make decisions about the issues that are important to you. Your vote is a valuable step in declaring to yourself and others what kind of society you want to live in. The right to vote was not always afforded to all Americans and many put their lives on the line to achieve voting rights. In 1964, during Freedom Summer (a voter registration program aimed at overcoming unjust barriers that prevented Black Americans from voting), Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner were brutally murdered while leading those efforts in Mississippi. Goodman, Chaney, Schwerner, and all the others who put their lives on the line are a reason to vote.
Ramapo College is an Andrew Goodman Vote Everywhere campus. Vote Everywhere supports Ramapo College student Ambassadors. The Ambassadors have signed on to help their peers navigate the process of educating others about voting rights, getting out the vote, and becoming more democratically engaged through voting and other avenues. Our Ambassadors are hard at work to bring you events such as learning more about the voting process and how to think about your voting plan. Please look for Ambassador events in the Daily Digest and In the Loop.
While presidential and midterm election years receive the most press, the implications during this “off-year” are big. Every state senate and assembly seat in New Jersey is up for election and you can explore information about other states at Vote411. Additionally, mayoral races, town council, and board of education elections have a profound impact on your community. The actions of the above-mentioned elected officials can have more lasting and immediate impact than actions advanced by the federal government and these are critical reasons to vote.
How to Vote
The General Election is being conducted by using three voting options:
1. Vote By Mail Ballot
To use this option, your County Clerk’s office needed to have received your Vote by Mail application by October 31st.
By Mail: You can mail your ballot via the United States Post Office. Ballots must be postmarked no later than 8:00pm on November 7th and be received by your county’s Board of Elections on or before November 13th.
By Drop Box: Place your vote-by-mail ballot in one of your county’s secure ballot drop boxes by 8:00pm on November 7th. Drop box locations can be found at the NJ Voter Information Portal.
By Board of Elections Office: Deliver the vote-by-mail ballot in person to your county’s Board of Elections Office by 8:00pm on November 7th. County Election Officials’ contact information can be found at the NJ Voter Information Portal.
2. In-Person Early Voting (October 28th to November 5th)
Every county provides registered voters with this option for the General Election.
3. At Your Polling Place on Election Day
Vote in person at your polling place from 6:00am to 8:00pm on Election Day, November 7th.
In Consideration of Civic Engagement
If you wish to see change in your community, voting is one of the first steps you can take to make a difference. As we saw through Freedom Summer, there are individuals who seek to restrict and make this civic process more difficult. Voting suppression still occurs today, but you can demonstrate, with your ballot, that your opinion and choice matters. In Spring 2023, Ramapo College was named a Voter Friendly Campus by Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project and NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.
In addition to voting, you can also engage in civic engagement through volunteerism. Please think about the ways you wish to contribute to your community and beyond by giving back. You can find community service opportunities listed in the Daily Digest, In the Loop, and by contacting the Civic and Community Engagement Center (CCEC) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may wish to express what you care about and seek to understand the views of others. Listen to each other. By learning, thinking, speaking, and engaging freely, you are working toward a difference in the community through your First Amendment rights. Ramapo College has a Student Dissent/Disruption of College Functions policy to support your right to raise issues. The College prides itself on offering opportunities for education, civil discourse, and creating a productive, healthy, and safe place for all to understand and contribute to dialogue about important social issues.
From November 13th – 17th, you are invited to join the CCEC’s observation of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. Please participate in presentations and activities designed to bring awareness to the topics of hunger and homelessness and how they impact students at the College as well as those in our local community and beyond.
The Andrew Goodman Ambassadors will host an election review and open house on November 14th, from 1pm to 2pm, in the CCEC (location, Student Center-213). You will learn about the impact your vote has on topics such as food and housing insecurity, as well as other resources the CCEC has to offer. Please look for information in the Daily Digest and In the Loop.
On December 4th at 1:00pm in the Pavilion, the Presidential Speaker Series will feature Dr. Nancy Cantor, Chancellor of Rutgers University-Newark. Dr. Cantor is recognized nationally and internationally as an advocate for leveraging diversity in all its dimensions, reemphasizing the public mission of colleges and universities as engines of discovery, innovation and social mobility, and achieving the fulsome potential of universities as anchor institutions that collaborate with partners from all sectors to help their communities thrive.
We hope that you are inspired to vote and think about the role you wish to take in civic engagement. Voting is one of the best ways to declare what you value the most and we encourage you (if not already) to make a commitment to yourself that you will vote in each and every election. As stated by President Jebb in her October 23rd email, “your journey through college is not only about academic growth but also personal development and self-discovery.” As you now have this relatively new civic responsibility to cast a ballot and share your opinion, we welcome you to find Ramapo as a supportive place to help cultivate and harness your civic voice.