Beyond the Ballot: Off-Year Political Engagement

Friday, Nov 20, 2020
by Oyin Sangoyomi '23, Student Correspondent

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 Dylan Shapiro, a sophomore intending to concentrate in either politics or the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA). Shapiro is a member of both Vote 100 and Princeton College Democrats.

Since last year, Dylan Shapiro knew that he wanted to do something to be involved with the presidential election, whether that meant voter registration or working for a U.S. Senate campaign. So when the opportunity to be involved in Vote100 arose, he quickly joined the organization. Not only was Vote100 very active in reminding the Princeton community to vote, but Shapiro also feels that it helped people get around less perceptible hurdles—such as knowing how to register to vote—in time for them to participate in this year’s election.

Beyond the Princeton community, Shapiro has been working with Princeton College Democrats to do phone banking across the country for the campaign of president-elect Joe Biden, as well as for a variety of the U.S. Senate races. Shapiro is especially proud of the team he worked with in this task, calling them a “small but mighty team” that was successful in reaching out to different people and encouraging them to vote.

Part of Vote100’s work going forward is to keep people politically engaged beyond the election. Shapiro emphasizes the importance of being involved in state, local, and run-off elections as well. For a lot of people at Princeton, this was their first time voting, so he is hopeful that Vote100 has had an impact on people’s lives and can encourage people to continue voting in other types of elections. 

“We are not just a ‘in your face every four years’ organization,” Shapiro tells us. “We are going to try to be present as much as possible in these off-cycles and keeping people engaged in issues around voting and civic engagement in general.”

Shaprio does prefer canvassing and in person conversations for raising political awareness, but due to the unfortunate circumstances of 2020, he found himself talking to people through the phone instead. “In person conversations are a lot more rewarding,” he admits. However, 2020 will not prevent from being politically engaged; in the immediate future, he looks forward to dedicating time to state-level politics and to continue raising awareness for the issues that are of personal importance to him. As for Vote100, he has confidence in the organization to move on to preparing people for off-year elections and staying engaged outside of the general election.