CEO of Vote.org Talks 2020 Election, Voter Suppression

Photo courtesy of Vote.org.

Photo courtesy of Vote.org.

Edan Zinn, Executive Editor

In the latest installment of the 16th Annual Bissell Grogan Humanities Symposium, the School invited Vote.org Chief Executive Officer Andrea Hailey to speak on this year’s school-wide theme, Building an Equitable Community.

Hailey addressed civic engagement and voter suppression amid an irregular election season, and how Vote.org, a nonpartisan voter engagement organization, provided support to voters.

According to Vote.org’s website, Hailey is a “staunch defender and promoter of democracy,” having worked in voter engagement and campaigns for nearly two decades.

“Andrea led Vote.org to record-breaking growth during the 2020 General Election and the Georgia runoff elections, helping more than 3.7 million people register to vote and more than 3.3 million request mail-in ballots, and leading a 50-state get-out-the-vote operation which made over half a billion voter contacts across the country,” the website reads.

In her speech, Hailey noted the record turnout for the 2020 General Election, especially among young people and new voters.

“Young people are often a target for voter suppression,” Hailey said. She also noted that campaigns don’t often reach out to young people, especially college students.

“The system is made difficult for young people,” Hailey said.

Hailey also presented statistics about what she calls the “Voter Turnout Problem,” where fewer citizens than those eligible cast their ballots in federal elections. According to Hailey, the “health and stability” of U.S. democracy should be recognized.

Hailey shared her own experiences with voter suppression, facing lines of up to six hours waiting to cast her ballot. She also spoke about how for the recent 2020 presidential election, voters in Flint, Michigan received malicious text messages with misinformation about polling locations and times. Hailey explained how Vote.org reached out to voters to help correct the problem.

Director of Equity & Inclusion Jessica Christian praised Hailey’s keynote in a weekly bulletin message.

“She was impassioned and informative as she spoke to our students in grades 8-12 about their future civic duties and the importance of participating in and upholding a democracy,” Christian said.

Upper School Head Joshua Neudel shared what he hopes students take away from Hailey’s speech.

“I was struck by the power that young people have to make a difference in the world through elections, and I hope that our students were able to hear her message that their vote is an important way they can impact change, not only by voting for presidential candidates, but by participating in elections for city councilors, state representatives, and members of Congress,” Neudel said.

March 1, the School will host a virtual event, “Equity & Women’s Sports Panel Discussion,” as the final installment in the speaker series. The panel will feature professional basketball player Shey Peddy, New England Sports Network Media Executive Celeste Gehring, and Third Grade teacher and Girls’ Basketball Coach Lindsay Horbatuck.

 

Editor’s Note: For an archived livestream of Hailey’s address, click here. All upcoming keynote addresses will be held on the recurring Zoom link here.