Pioneer Vote Brings Candidates to Campus

Pioneer Vote, a student-led club, was formed to help students at Sacred Heart University raise their political awareness and help them register to vote.

Carlos Ruiz, former president of Pioneer Vote, said, “SHU does well with many things, surprisingly what we’re still lacking in is voter engagement. You look around, and everyone is pretty opinionated.”

With a large portion of the student population being out-of-state, a big part of this disengagement stems from a lack of knowledge about the process of registering to vote in a different state.

Pioneer Vote hosted a “Come Meet the Candidates” event on Sept. 6 to encourage Sacred Heart students to vote and get interested in politics. Those attending the event got to speak with candidates from the local Bridgeport primary election. Students were able to, in addition to free pizza, receive voter registration cards.

“When the pizza was brought out is when they started signing people up to vote and registering (the students),” said Coach Jon Basti, who attended on behalf of Sacred Heart’s men’s lacrosse team.

A variety of candidates came to the university to talk to attendees about the political and voting processes. Mayoral candidate Joseph P. Ganim, 134th District Councilwoman Michele Lyons, and WillieMedina, who is running for a seat on the city school board, among other hopeful elects.

No matter the political stance, all candidates were adamant about the importance of working with Sacred Heart to encourage the student body to vote. According to Princeton Review, SHU ranks fifteenth out of the twenty-five colleges with the least politically active student body.

This is where Pioneer Vote comes in.

“Pioneer vote aims to help student’s voices get heard on campus, and also to get students educated on politics,” said Angelica Sampson, president of Pioneer Vote.

In addition to this, Sampson hopes to get students more familiar with the voting process.

“They get registered and then they don’t know what to do,” said Sampson. “Being president of the club, I really want to get people understanding who’s running, what their party platforms are, and how that impacts us as students, workers, and members of society.”

Pioneer Vote hopes to increase engagement between voters at SHU and the community of Bridgeport. One key aspect of this is educating students on the resources available to them.

“When I was in college, I was registered to vote in the presidential election in New Jersey, but then when it came down to me to go and vote while I was in college, I couldn’t do it because I couldn’t get home,” said Basti. “I encouraged many members of the lacrosse team to fill out registration cards and brought some back for students who could not go to the event.”

Matthew Waggner, from the Town of Fairfield Registrar of Voters, advises students to visit to begin the process of registering.

“On-campus students should remember to list their dorm, so you are registered for the correct polling place,” said Waggner.

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