Eliza Lloyd is a team leader of the Colgate Vote Project (CVP), a student-led nonpartisan group designed to encourage voter participation on campus. She is currently a junior, concentrating in neuroscience and philosophy, and is an Alumni Memorial Scholar (AMS). It was during her AMS pre-orientation in the fall of 2019 that Lloyd was first exposed to CVP, and immediately knew that she wanted to get involved. Lloyd was tabling with them in the O’Connor Campus Center (COOP) on first-year move-in day before her own first year at Colgate had even begun.
Lloyd grew up in Fairfield, Conn., where she developed a passion for the democratic process early on, as well as an understanding that the process lacked participation from her own generation.
“My parents really instilled the importance of voting. It was sort of an exciting thing for me to register to vote in high school when I turned 18,” Lloyd said.
She hoped that through CVP she could help instill her college peers with that same excitement. Lloyd has been volunteering with CVP ever since and moved into her role as co-leader during her sophomore year. This position entails organizing events, picking topics, reaching out to professors or commons heads, and managing the logistics of the program. For Lloyd and the other team leaders, seniors Sarah Shahidi and Ellie Schonberg, as well as junior Sam Adgie, it has been a crucial and complicated year to take on this responsibility.
The virtually functioning world of COVID-19 has required careful planning and creativity to get the word out to students to vote. Since 2020 is an election year, Lloyd and her team have been working quickly to adjust and reach as many students as they can before November. They began this semester by giving virtual presentations to more than a dozen first-year seminars, as well as first-year and sophomore classes.
“[CVP leaders] talked about the importance of voting [and] how the process works, just giving them an overview on how they can register to vote and get their absentee ballot or check for their polling place if they are remote this semester,” Lloyd said.
On the heels of that undertaking, CVP invited students across Colgate’s physical and virtual campus to participate in National Voter Registration Day on Sep. 22.
“Usually we do some sort of tabling events in the library or in the Coop and that’s how we reach students,” she said. “Instead we did a National Voter Registration Day phone drive, so we had over 15 students participate and we were able to reach almost 100 students. We found that all but four or five students were registered.”
Members of the CVP were encouraged by this news, and have continued to vigorously promote registration across campus.
“We have been working with the commons recently to put on more voter registration events, and just held an event with the [National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) and the Africana, Latin, Asian, and Native American (ALANA) Cultural Center] that was about the historical background of and current issues related to voter suppression and voter access,” Lloyd said.
She hopes that events like that one will help students realize that voting is more than just a responsibility.
“It is also a privilege, and we shouldn’t take it for granted especially considering the history of voter suppression in our country,” Lloyd said.
The challenges of motivation, unfortunately, are not the only hurdles CVP has faced this year.
“We have heard some concerns from students whether or not they should even apply,” said Lloyd. “We are encouraging students to not listen to all of the talk about voter fraud with mail-in ballots. If they follow the steps, hopefully, their vote will be counted. We can’t give up on the whole process because there are hiccups along the way.”
To Colgate’s prospective voters, Lloyd reminds them that there are stamps and envelopes in mail services that anyone can use for registration forms and absentee ballots. To the students wanting to help motivate voting in their communities, she says, “[The CVP] is a low commitment [organization] that really makes an impact. I would also say that students don’t need to have a formal structure to do what we do. It’s not very difficult to open the discussion and talk to your friends or your family about the importance of voting.”
Lloyd plans to be an active advocate for the democratic process following her time at Colgate and with the CVP, continuing to vote herself and possibly volunteering as a poll worker or making calls for phone banks.
“Just little stuff like that I think is so important,” Lloyd said. “[Working with the CVP] has given me a lot of hope about our generation. Especially this year we are seeing a lot of people reach out to us who are very passionate about voting in a way that we did not see in the midterm elections two years ago, and in a way that I personally have not seen from our generation since I have been conscious of politics. I am hopeful that this year we are going to have an unprecedented voter turnout, especially among young people.”
Lloyd hopes that voter activism will continue at Colgate, and will persevere through the unconventionality of this year’s election season.
“If we can learn to recognize it as an effective and important way to voice our opinions in this country, then our government might reflect the people’s opinions more than perhaps we are seeing right now,” Lloyd said.