In a semester that includes a pivotal election on national, state and regional levels, the college’s nonpartisan Vote Oswego civic engagement effort itself had to pivot -- instead of information tables and face-to-face events, the student team has relied on tools like Zoom, Slack and Google Drive to power its activities. 

In addition to encouraging students to register to vote and cast their ballots, Vote Oswego offers students the opportunity to participate in campaign planning as part of a team consisting of a political science class taught by Allison Rank, a graphic design course taught by Rebecca Mushtare and additional volunteers. 

“Vote Oswego is a nonpartisan resource that facilitates students registering to vote, requesting absentee ballots, understanding what is on their ballot and the voting process whether at the polls or by mail, and casting their ballot,” said Rank.

This year’s election expects the largest youth voter turnout in history at 15 million Americans. The campaign understands many young voters may be intimidated by the voting process because they are not familiar with it. Familiarity plays a large role in voter confidence as well trust in information, so demystifying the process and helping students learn how to make their voices and votes count is a big part of the campaign.

During COVID, many students feel helpless about the world around them and about our political process,” said Lauren Fitzgerald, the campaign’s volunteer coordinator and a senior double major in political science and in global and international studies.

Fitzgerald, who previously worked on two Congressional and one presidential campaign, noted that Vote Oswego provides tangible, useful experience for those working on the comprehensive effort. 

“You really learn a lot about the campus and many different aspects of our amazing student body,” Fitzgerald said. “Not only do we get to interact a lot with our student body in class, it's a lot of teamwork and strategy sessions of figuring out what's the best organizing strategy which is always great to be a part of. I was lucky enough to take this class in 2018, and now intern this year so I've loved being a part of a great grassroots team.”

Comprehensive campaign

The campaign included events for Constitution Day, Sept. 17, and especially for Vote Oswego Day on Oct. 1, which had a goal of getting students to register early while learning about different ways they can cast their ballots.

“Creating events, making sure those events are staffed with campaign staffers, and that the general public is made aware of the programs that we put together are all important career skills,” Fitzgerald said. “Every campaign staffer in the class who was involved with setting up and executing Vote Oswego Day is more than capable of working on any political campaign because it sure has helped me.”

Students have produced a series of weekly emails keeping the student body informed on how to ensure they can vote as well as how they can help engage friends in the process via the Peer Accountability System. The students were responsible for a centerpiece of those emails in scripting, appearing in and helping produce videos on topics such as how to register, how to request an absentee ballot and how to make a plan to vote. 

The team’s @VoteOswego social media accounts have been active in making students aware of how fast and easy it is to register via TurboVote, providing information about deadlines and procedures, and in helping students find where to vote and who is on their ballots.

“We've made adjustments just like everyone else,” Fitzgerald said. “Technology has been our best friend by having Zoom events and creating digital signage to engage SUNY Oswego students. Social media has been an important tool in informing many students since these days it's something we're constantly on and consuming.”

For more information on the campaign and voting information, visit

 -- Rasheed Shabazz, Class of 2020 (December), contributed to this story