Students participate in Get Out the Vote efforts, vote in midterm elections

Washington and Lee College Democrats and College Republicans urged fellow students to go to the polls

Maddie Smith

On Nov. 6, Americans voted in the 2018 midterm elections, which saw record turnout across the country. The Democrats more than exceeded the 23 seats needed to retake the house, but Republicans man- aged to gain ground in the Senate, solidifying control with 53 seats.

The days before the election were filled with Get Out The Vote efforts from both sides of the aisle. But students and Rockbridge County community members were preparing months before the election with voter registration drives.

Skyler Zunk, ‘19, the 6th Congressional District College Republican Representative and former chair of the College Republicans, said he was proud of student engagement with voter turnout.

“I’m very proud of what the College Republicans were able to accomplish in the lead-up to the midterms, including registering over 100 new members and engaging with the local GOP organization,” Zunk said. “I think our decisive [Washington and Lee University College Democrats versus College Republicans] debate victory the week before the election did a lot to excite not only the Republicans who were in the 80+ audience but also the 800 people who watched online.”

Local Republican efforts focused on electing Ben Cline, the delegate for the 24th district in the Virginia House of Delegates, to represent the 6th District in Congress. Cline beat his Democratic opponent Jennifer Lewis by nearly 20 percentage points.

Cline is replacing Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who served 13 terms in the House.

Zunk acknowledged that some members of the group were not able to vote, but he still praised their efforts.

“College Republicans – at W&L in particular – are smart and the vast majority of them did vote in the midterm election for conservative candidates in Virginia and in their various home states,” Zunk said. “Our members went above and beyond by encouraging community members to vote with phone calls and door-to-door operations.”

President of the College Democrats Morgan Maloney, ‘19, has always been invested in politics.

“Starting in middle school, I’ve loved being involved with campaigns and elections,” Maloney said. “I think it is so important to make sure that my voice — and the voice of all students on campus — is heard in the ballot box.”

Maloney says her College Democrats executive team is to thank for the organization’s heavy presence on campus in the weeks leading up to the election.

She emphasized the importance of everyone voting, not just those of her political affiliation.

“Even though we are the College Democrats, we really wanted to get as many students as possible to vote, regardless of political affiliation,” Maloney said. “Every vote is a win for democracy— though we also hope it’s for the Democrats!”

Some students did not have the chance to participate in the democratic process, however. Students like Brynn Wilkinson, ‘22, were unable to get access to a ballot before election day.

“I got an absentee ballot, but it didn’t come in time,” Wilkinson, who is from South Carolina, said. “I was too late.”