Helping Hopkins vote
October 19, 2020
Dear Johns Hopkins Community:
This past summer, I had the opportunity to talk with Professor Martha Jones in the Department of History about her latest book, Vanguard, a history of Black women’s multigenerational struggle to secure the right to full political participation in American life.
The women in Professor Jones’ book worked tirelessly and fearlessly across decades to win the franchise. Among these was Joe Ella Moore, a Mississippi woman who successfully registered to vote in 1965 after years of confronting a variety of Jim Crow–era barriers to voting: poll taxes, literacy tests, and threats of violence. Professor Jones reflects on the meaning of moments like this one with particular eloquence: “Each time a first vote is cast, it is a new expression of faith in the nation.”
Today, these stories and words resonate more powerfully than ever as each of us prepares to cast a ballot—an act we cannot take for granted, especially in the face of an ongoing pandemic. With fewer polling places, limited voting hours, and the increased demand for mail-in voting access, we must all be more intentional about how, when, and by what means we will vote.
Johns Hopkins is here to support you in that effort.
Since the last presidential election, Johns Hopkins students, faculty, and staff have devoted themselves to deepening and strengthening university initiatives to support voting and democratic engagement. The success is undeniable: from 2012 to 2016, the percentage of Johns Hopkins students who voted grew from 42.5% to 55.8%. And this year, early registration rates for our undergraduate students suggest that we are on track to have the largest turnout yet. (In fact, I’ve challenged our undergrads to get as close to 100% as possible!)
But there is still more to do.
This year, we are working to ensure that all members of our community have the information and resources they need to exercise their right to vote. These efforts include:
- Class flexibility for our students. The deans of our schools have worked with faculty colleagues to ensure that no student, except for those on clinical rotations, is required to attend live classes on Election Day (Tuesday, November 3 ) and that any student who needs time to vote or volunteer in support of an orderly national election will be able to access a recording of classes held on that day or to take advantage of other options for instruction.
- Student voting support through a concerted push to boost student voter turnout led by the nonpartisan Hopkins Votes, which is working to ensure that every Hopkins student is registered to vote and ready to cast a ballot.
- Support for staff voting through our long-standing policy of allowing all employees to take up to two hours of paid time off (PTO) to vote.
- Additional transportation support for all students, faculty, and staff who are voting locally to get to their ballot drop-off locations and polling places.
More information on the various supports the university is providing to its faculty, staff, and students for this year’s election is available at our universitywide Hopkins Votes website.
Whether this is your first time casting a ballot or you have done so for decades, your vote continues to stand as a core and solemn expression of faith in, and commitment to, the extraordinary democratic experiment of which we are all part.