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Drexel Libraries’ "Countdown to Vote" Series Helped Students Prepare for the 2020 Election

November 10, 2020

Throughout the month of October, the Drexel Libraries hosted a new event series called Countdown to Vote, an educational, non-partisan webinar series on voting and elections.

Countdown to Vote is an extension of the University’s Drexel Votes campaign, a coalition of groups within the University committed to encouraging the Drexel community to become registered voters, educated and engaged citizens, and active supporters of the candidate of their choice.

The Libraries was a natural leader for the charge, as one of its strategic initiatives is to provide access to authoritative information and to inspire the life-long quest for learning so Drexel students, faculty, staff and members of the community can make well-informed decisions.

Webinars focused on issues key to the 2020 presidential election in particular. In one session, Drexel Professor William Rosenberg spoke about the ins and outs of vote-at-home options. Later in the month, guest speaker Michael Mezey from DePaul University spoke about the advantages and disadvantages of the electoral college. He explained how the Electoral College works and shared possible outcomes of the 2020 election. Amelia Hoover Green, Associate Professor of History at Drexel, offered a session on presidential systems vs parliamentary political systems and recent concerns about the US presidential election.

Drexel University also joined forces with the Committee of Seventy—an independent, non-partisan advocacy group in Philadelphia that works to achieve clean and effective government, better elections and informed and engaged citizens—to host a virtual town hall on voting via Facebook Live. During the hour-long session, Lauren Cristella, the Committee of Seventy’s Chief Advancement Officer, addressed options for voting in the 2020 general election, where to find your polling place in Philadelphia (and in Pennsylvania more broadly), and answered questions about voting concerns surrounding the 2020 election due to COVID-19, and more. The town hall drew a “crowd” of more than 30 live online viewers from across the state and had over 700 Facebook views within the first three hours of the broadcast.

The series ended with a session called Breaking Polarization: The Promise & Perils of Election Reform with Jack Santucci, Assistant Teaching Professor at Drexel, and Lee Drutman, Senior Fellow at New America, a think tank focusing on a range of policy issues including technology, health, energy, education, and the economy. The two experts discussed the challenges of election reform and provided a review of the current electoral process in the United States.

“Now more than ever, this year’s election demonstrated that politically educated citizens are critical to a functioning society,” observed John Wiggins, Director, Services and Quality Improvement, who led the Libraries’ efforts to organize the series. “The Libraries thanks those who participated in this event series in order to help educate the Drexel community and beyond about the importance of voting and elections and is proud to have played even a small role in combating low voter turnout this November.”

For those who missed the live events, the recorded sessions are available on the Drexel Libraries’ YouTube channel, or visit the Libraries’ Drexel Votes resource guide for more information about voting and elections.