Campus Polling Site Aids Vassar Voters

Photos Karl Rabe

For President Elizabeth H. Bradley—and many others on the Vassar campus—the trip to the polling place on Election Day was quick and easy. Bradley, accompanied by her husband, John, took the two-minute walk from her office in Main to the Aula in Ely Hall on Tuesday morning to cast her ballot for candidates for local office.

A person walking and waving to the camera at a polling site.
“That was easy!” President Bradley cast her ballot at the Aula polling site on campus on Election Day morning.

“It’s really uplifting to have a polling place right on campus,” Bradley said moments after she voted. “It makes us even more a part of our community, and it enables our students to easily take part in democracy, to experience what it means to be an American citizen.”

After a protracted legal struggle, the effort by Vassar officials to host a polling place on campus came to fruition last November, when the Aula was first designated as a site by the Dutchess County Board of Elections. But because the ruling came just hours before Election Day last year, many voters weren’t aware of it.

This year, the campus organization VassarVotes and the Office of Community-Engaged Learning (OCEL) had plenty of time to collaborate on a campaign to get students registered and to let them know how convenient voting would be. Approximately 150 students were registered to vote locally this Election Day, and VassarVotes volunteers helped many others who wanted to vote in their hometowns obtain absentee ballots.

A smiling person sits at a table with a bagel and a laptop holding up a voter registration deadline poster.
Calder Beasley ’26, Noyes dorm captain for VassarVotes, hosted a “Bagels and Ballots” event on Election Day morning to encourage students to vote.

On Election Day morning, Calder Beasley ’26, Noyes dorm captain for VassarVotes, greeted residents in Noyes’s Jetson Lounge with bagels and coffee to remind them to cast their ballots. Beasley first organized the event when students had to board buses to vote in elections here. He said he decided to keep the tradition going now that the campus was hosting a polling site. “Vassar can be a bubble sometimes, so it’s important to get students to participate in their local community, and learning about local issues and voting is one way to do that,” he said. “Sometimes it’s difficult to get people interested in voting in a so-called off-year election, but the candidates who are elected this year will be making decisions that directly affect the College.”

Person casting their ballot at a polling site
Vassar Student Rebecca Levy ’27 casts her very first ballot in the Aula.

Shortly after Bradley had cast her ballot, Vassar student Rebecca Levy ’27 showed up at the Aula to vote for the very first time. “I’m from a politically active family, and I know the impact voting can have,” Levy said. “Historically, many of the races in Poughkeepsie have been really close, so every vote counts.”

November 9, 2023