Nancy Strever ’24 hopes to create a voter registration table and a presence at new-student check-in and move-in days.
Nancy Strever slipped her ballot into an envelope and walked to the mailroom at Eckerd College, elated to be voting in her very first U.S. general election.
The happiness was increased for the first-year animal studies student from Somers, Connecticut, because, as Eckerd’s first-ever Democracy Fellow for the Campus Vote Project, she knew she had helped many others feel the same.
“It really made me feel I’d made a difference,” Nancy said. “I helped people get registered, pledge to vote and make their voting plan. And if they had any questions, they had my number—and some of them did call me.”
Barely a month into her college career, Nancy was sitting in the library scanning TritonTrack, the Eckerd College Career Services job management system, and stumbled across the description of the Democracy Fellowship with Campus Vote Project, a subgroup that had branched off the Fair Elections Center in 2012 whose goal is to normalize and institutionalize student voting by working directly with colleges and universities across the country. She applied in September and was accepted and trained.
During the fall, Nancy joined the Florida Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Students chapter as it launched an All Out Voter Registration campaign that helped more than 2,000 students register to vote, got over 2,400 students to pledge to vote, and made more than 52,000 Get Out the Vote contacts in the days leading up to the Nov. 3 election. As a first-time voter herself, the learning curve was steep.
“I registered to vote in Connecticut when I was 17 because the law there allows you to vote in the primary as long as you will be 18 before the general election. The rules here were very different, and people had very specific problems that I just didn’t have enough knowledge to answer,” Nancy said. “That is when I turned to my Campus Vote Project state coordinator or PIRG and was able to help them.”
Nancy’s work now focuses on making sure student civic engagement continues far beyond her tenure and extends to local elections as well. She has worked with administration to identify a permanent faculty advisor for the fellowship position, Assistant Professor of Political Science Katti McNally. Next on the to-do list is exploring the possibility of adding signatures to Eckerd College IDs.
“If student IDs had signatures, according to Florida law, they could be used to vote in person,” Nancy said. “It gets very complicated when a student is registered here but has their driver’s license or ID card issued in another state. Adding signatures to college IDs meets state identification requirements and cuts a lot of the red tape.”
She also hopes to create a voter registration table and a presence at new-student check-in and move-in days as a reminder of how essential this process is to the next phase in their lives.
“I’m so glad I was able to find this work that I’m passionate about,” Nancy admitted. “Getting the chance to help others exercise their rights is an awesome opportunity.”