From our Campus to our Country: Georgie Jones Encourages Students to VOTE

Georgie Jones is a standout junior who has done so much for this campus gearing up for the historic presidential election next Tuesday.  After spending so much time encouraging people to register to vote, she took some time out of her busy schedule to meet with me and answer the question, “Why Vote?”

Class: 2018

Major: Government and Politics

What are you involved with on campus?

In addition to TerpsVote, I’m in SGA, I’m president now of Maryland Discourse, and on the board for Relay for Life.

How do you as a young woman feel empowered to be involved in political type organizations?

It helps so much that there are so many women on this campus who are already leaders, and it is up to us to set this change in tone for society as a whole, and hopefully in 50 years from now, we won’t be having this conversation because everyone will assume that women should be in leadership positions.

This is the first presidential election you will be voting in, how does this empower you as a young woman?

It’s a valid point so this is the first time we’re having a discussion about having a woman president. Hopefully, this won’t be the last conversation. It gets rid of that stigma that this is not possible.  Even if the outcome doesn’t come out in Hillary’s favor, she’s already made big steps.

Tell me about TerpsVote.

The coalition is a range of student groups across campus.  RHA is involved, MARYPirg is involved, Black Honors caucus, PLUMAS, GSG, etc.  We’ve tried to reach out a lot more than we have in the past.  There has been a grassroots level and tabling and explaining and the upcoming and important deadlines. The online push (ter.ps/turbovote) was HUGE this year. TerpsVote is about two or three years old, and it is the first formal initiative to increase voter engagement on campus.  Before this year, 1300 students registered to vote on campus, we are at about 3300 voters registered on campus this year.  It helps that there is a Big10 administrative push as well.  All the schools are competing.

Does that count students who registered independently?

Good question! So all the registration (about 2700) on turbovote counts, and there are more on paper that the coalition can count.

Do you feel that this registration push for the presidential election takes away from local political elections?

Those who are registering understand that they have choices.  The conversation around registering to vote nationwide has been to register on campus.  We are making sure we present those options.  Paper ballots are for students registering in Maryland, but turbovote allows students to register for their home state as well.

Do you feel an obligation to local MD politicians in terms of presenting these options?

Mihir and I started talking about that in the summer.  There is a pretty big election coming up for Maryland next term, making sure that their vote extends past the top half of the ticket that you are voting for.  If you decide to go straight down the ticket, making sure that students know what the consequences of that will be. It will be a challenge to promote the different candidates at the different level during future elections.

 Why vote?

Everyone should be voting because whatever decisions we are making here, we will be feeling what we’re saying now.  So we need to be engaged voters, watching the debates.  We sit here and we say that we’re feeling these issues.  Only if we all express our opinions can we come up with the most holistic approach to this issue.

How do you make sure that people are engaged in university politics?

They see national politics in their day to day lives, they see it in the media.  Getting people engaged on a campus level is a lot more difficult.  People think there is a lack of accountability, and they don’t feel like the impact that student leaders can have on campus is real. They don’t know these policies affect them.  And how these different issues come back to campus.  The job and role of student government is to be transparent, but it is also the role of the other students to hold them accountable.

What policy issues do you think are most important on this campus?

The proposed Title IX fee is getting a lot of discussion right now.  Should that be held at the university level or fall back on the students?  It’s a fair conversation to have.  Fee increases in general are an important discussion, but especially regarding Title IX.

Final question that I ask everyone, who are the three women that you respect the most?

Emma Watson, Malala Yusovsi, and…Can I say two?  I had two coaches in high school, one of whom I’ve had since I was 4. Dive coach- Anito Quinn. Volleyball- Sharon Ponton: did a lot of work for building up the community.