F&M Stories

Diplomat Voter Engagement Conference Aims to Boost Voter Turnout Across PA

With the 2024 elections on the horizon, Franklin & Marshall students are hoping to increase turnout among voters between the ages of 18 and 24 in Pennsylvania. Drawing on the success of F&M Votes, the College hosted the first Diplomat Voter Engagement Conference on Saturday, Jan. 13.

Participants included students, faculty and staff from colleges and universities across the state, as well as members of organizations such as Campus Vote Project and Students for Ballot PA. 

After a keynote address from Sean Morales Doyle, Director of the Voting Rights Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, participants attended sessions on student, faculty and staff coalition-building, engagement with local government, and election-day operations. The day closed with remarks from Jonathan Marks, Pennsylvania’s Deputy Secretary for Elections and Commissions. 

The conference, held in the Harris Center, was the result of months of planning by Berwood Yost, Director of the Center for Opinion Research, and F&M Votes student co-chairs Liz Joslin and Brooke Proctor. Both students are passionate about voter engagement and were eager to expand on the work they had already done with F&M Votes.

Proctor, a sophomore from Byram, N.J., was excited to vote in Pennsylvania when she began attending F&M, and wanted to encourage other students to do the same.  

“When I joined F&M Votes, I really dove into the opportunity to vote in a swing state for the first time, and I devoted a lot of my time to the coalition,” Proctor said.

For Joslin, civic engagement goes hand-in-hand with a liberal arts education. “We’re learning how to think critically here at F&M,” said the senior government major. “To be able to take everything you’re learning and vote on election day as a well-informed citizen, I think that’s really important.”

During the conference, participants discussed tactics that have been effective for F&M Votes and how those strategies might be adapted to different campus environments.

“I hope attendees are able to recognize our passion for voter engagement and utilize our strategies to foster a similar tradition,” said Proctor. “It’s vitally important for young voters to be educated on their impact and encouraged to engage.”

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