Beyond the Ballot highlights actions that the Princeton University community is taking to address issues they care about, as well as ways people are becoming more informed on these issues. We recently spoke with Corazón Núñez, a sophomore intending to concentrate in molecular biology. Núñez is a member of Vote100, Princeton College Democrats, and spent the summer volunteering for the campaign to elect Democratic candidate Mark Kelly to the U.S. Senate in her home state, Arizona.
Corazón Núñez has been interested in voter registration since she was in high school, and especially since 2020 is a presidential election year, she saw joining Vote100 as a great opportunity to pursue her interests. Vote100 was also a great way for her to connect with other Princeton students interested in politics.
Many people in America watch news and read depressing headlines that can make them feel hopeless. That is why Núñez is glad that her work at Vote100 did a great job making political engagement part of the conversation and showing people the actionable steps that they can take to personally be involved in making a change. And not only has Vote100 helped a number of Princeton students register to vote, but they have also collaborated with other groups off-campus, such as the “All in to Vote” Challenge, to encourage voter registration beyond Princeton.
Naturally, the unique circumstances that 2020 has presented has pushed Vote100 to get fairly creative with their outreach. Whereas normally they would be able to host presentations and speak at various club gatherings, their main tool was sending emails, which also meant having to figure out ways to get people to open those emails. A lot of their work came down to phone banking, a skill that proved difficult to teach over Zoom.
Although Vote100 was especially focused on the presidential election this year, the organization always emphasizes that there will be always more work to do in political engagement. Their next steps are to highlight things other than voting, such as volunteering and activism, because things do not just stop with the election, as Núñez points out.
“I don’t want to act like—you vote, and you did it, and you’re good!” She says. “I have always believed that you have to do more than voting—voting is not enough. A lot of the electoral process does not account for newer movements, newer voices, underrepresented voices. So I would say that voting is not more or less important than activism, but that includes a lot of different things.”
That activism, Núñez stresses, does not have to be complicated. Relational organization—speaking to people within your circle about political engagement—can not only make a change, but oftentimes it is even more effective, as your family and friends are more likely to listen to you about political engagement than a stranger.
Núñez is really excited about the big jump that Vote100 has seen in youth turnout, and moving forwards, she hopes to keep building on that and to keep focusing on reaching out to younger Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) voters, an area that still needs work.
Overall, she hopes that “with all of this outreach and emphasis on getting out the vote, people will keep that momentum up and continue to call their representatives, post on social media, send them emails, even when it’s not election season.”