A scheduled voter registration event at Pomona College co-hosted by the college’s Residence Hall Staff (RHS) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) was cancelled hours before the Thursday evening event began. The Deputy Diversity Director and training manager of the DCCC was scheduled to make an appearance, but according to event organizers, travel issues forced the cancellation of this event.
In addition to the Facebook event—which was widely circulated throughout the college—posters were plastered advertising this event. The event would have consisted of a workshop to train students to register voters in the midterm elections and the actual voter registration immediately afterwards in front of Frary Dining Hall at Pomona College.
While the voter registration event would have been co-hosted with the DCCC, when the Independent inquired about more details, Dean of Campus Life Christopher Waugh confirmed that “all students, regardless of political affiliation, are invited to participate in the event, and any participants registering voters are expected to follow voter registration procedures.” Voter registration procedures dictate that potential voters may not be denied registration based on political affiliation.
Because the cancellation was only announced two hours before the start of the event, several students still showed up, including a staff member of the Independent.
Besides this event, the college has also partnered with TurboVote, a non-partisan service run by Democracy Works—a group dedicated to upgrading the digital infrastructure of the voting process—to provide easy access to voter registration to students. Students are also able to directly register via TurboVote via a link on their student portals.
While Pomona officials stated that if the event had taken place, steps would have been taken to ensure a nonpartisan environment, Jacob Lubert, a senior at Pomona College, remarked that “Pomona College organizing a partisan voter registration event is a symptom of the pervasive, unopposed political bias throughout campus.” Lubert added that “the DCCC is an organization ‘whose principal mission is to support Democratic House candidates every step of the way to victory.’ They [the college] could have chosen from one of many non-partisan voter registration organizations.”
“This is unethical and unfair to those Pomona students, who are here to learn and not have their politics dictated to them.”
Another student, a Pomona third-year student who wished to remain unnamed, agreed. “The decision by RHS to enlist the help of a partisan organization in this effort should have been made more explicit. They should have at least made an effort to reach out to a Republican organization as well for the purposes of registration,” he told the Independent.
However, some students also thought that the steps taken by the college to prevent political bias were enough to ensure nonpartisanship. Another third-year student told the Independent that “any effort to increase voter registration should be implemented, especially those that already have steps to ensure nonpartisanship. Civic engagement is important.”