USFVotes helping students stay civically engaged during election season

Haley Palmer

Contributing Writer

In anticipation of the 2020 Presidential Election, USFVotes and the University of San Francisco’s students have been doing their own work to ensure people are well informed and prepared to vote.

The Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good’s mission is to help USF students lead virtuous lives and pursue careers that benefit their communities. The McCarthy Center runs USFVotes, a project which educates students on political issues, helps them register to vote, and to show up during the election. This month, USFVotes has reached a 10,000 student registration milestone for new voter registration. 

Angeline Vuong, director of community-engaged learning programs for the McCarthy Center, said, “A voter identity and civic engagement identity is all year round and not just relegated to election years.” Throughout the year USFVotes has hosted election pop-up hours, visited classrooms to educate students about the voting process, and even had one-on-one student voting informational meetings. What’s more, USFVotes has created a tool-kit for professors to use in their classes to facilitate conversations about the aftermath of what is shaping up to be a turbulent presidential election.

Amaya Fox and other USFVotes members gather outside the War Memorial Gym during the 2018 election. HALEY KEIZUR / SFFOGHORN

“Particularly in this Zoom environment, it’s more important than ever to meet people where they are,” Vuong said. 

Sophomore Emma Crameri started volunteering with USFVotes for a community service class, but enjoyed it so much that when Vuong reached out and asked her to join USFVotes as a team leader, she couldn’t refuse. Some of Crameri’s team leader duties include doing media rollout and trying to get the rest of the student population involved, informed, and ready to vote. She also did the countdown to national registration day on USFVotes’ social media. 

“We’re working on our post-election, making it a safe place to discuss the aftermath of the election, which is so crucial and heavy,” Crameri said. “I’m looking forward to that and giving students a safe place to talk through everything that’s been happening.”  

Through her work with USFVotes, Crameri has found something that she is passionate about. She also signed up to be a poll worker in her home state of Connecticut. Crameri was assigned to be a ballot clerk, whose job it is to hand out ballots to voters. She noticed the poll organization’s presence on social media, saying, “They did a great job over social media, pushing out all of this information to get younger people to vote or to work as poll workers.” 

There are also other USF students doing work outside of USFVotes surrounding the upcoming election. Leslie Sosa, a junior English major, is working as a political phone banker with a community organization called San Francisco Rising. Sosa calls voters to ask them about two propositions on the November ballot, Prop. 15, which would provide funding for schools and government services, and Prop. G, a local San Francisco measure that would allow 16-year-olds to vote in local elections. A first-time phone banker, Sosa said, “You know, especially in the middle of a pandemic, everyone’s on edge about everything, but overall it was a really good experience. I really enjoyed it.” 

Amaya Fox, a senior politics major, is back home in Tacoma, Wash. working for T’wina Nobles’ state senate campaign. Fox, a fundraising assistant on the campaign, hosts Zoom events, educates people about Nobles’ platform and creates lists of potential donors to call for support. Fox is also responsible for making sure things run smoothly during these Zoom events and posting links in the chat for donations and social media. Fox loves the work. “It’s probably my favorite job experience thus far in life,” she said. “This is really like a weird experience because it’s all remote, but I’m hoping that it’ll allow me to get that experience.”  

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