BatesVotes Prepares Students for the November Midterms


The student-run organization BatesVotes spent 13 hours on Wednesday tabling in Commons in an effort to help Bates community members register to vote.

BatesVotes was founded by Amalia Herren-Lage ’22 and Ashka Jhaveri ’22. The non-partisan group is led by students and supported by the Harward Center. According to their website, the organization’s mission is to “promote voter registration, education and civic engagement on and off-campus.” 

“Right now we’re working on registering people either in state or helping them with requesting absentee ballots in other states for the upcoming midterm elections in November,” Ethan Chan ’25, who spent several hours at the BatesVotes table on Wednesday, said. 

Chan is a member of the student leadership team of BatesVotes, which also includes Khadeeja Qureshi ‘23, Marcos Pacheco Soto ’24,  Inez Johnson ‘25, Elizabeth Gramley ‘25, Noah Forman ‘25 and Oyuka Lyndon ‘25.

Forman estimated that BatesVotes helped 200 students register to vote in Maine or request absentee ballots on Wednesday.

“That’s on top of people we registered during Short Term, people who have been registered already, and freshmen who registered [at BatesVotes events] during orientation or the club fair,” Chan said.

“The process at Bates was so much easier than when I registered in Massachusetts,” Charlotte Maffie ’25 said. Maffie is from Boston but registered to vote in Maine on Wednesday with the help of BatesVotes.

“I got my little slip of green paper and put in all my info and that was it … Bates made it ridiculously easy to switch my registration,” Maffie said.

The group’s efforts have been paying off. According to their website, the Bates College voter registration rate was 71 percent in 2016. Four years later, Bates was recognized as the school with the fourth-highest student voter turnout in the United States with 84.9 percent of eligible students casting a ballot in the 2020 election.

As registration and turnout improve, the group is expanding their efforts beyond voter registration.

“On election day, we’re going to be helping people get to the polls, helping people vote that way, encouraging people to get out,” Chan said. “Other than that, I think we’re looking at some ways to get people politically engaged. We’re a nonpartisan organization, so talking about how we can factually display information on issues students care about. We’re going to be looking at things to do outside of election seasons for the rest of the year.”

According to an email sent by BatesVotes to students informing them of the voter registration drive, upcoming events sponsored by the group include an “I Voted” sticker contest and a lecture from Secretary of State Shenna Bellows and Professor John Baughman. The lecture, titled “Defending Democracy: The State of Free & Fair Elections in Maine and the U.S.,” will be on Oct. 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the Fireplace Lounge. Students can register here.

Students who missed BatesVotes’s registration events can still register for the November 8 elections. According to Forman, BatesVotes will host more voter registration tables before the election. Students can also fill out a voter registration card in Ladd Library, where there is a stack of blank cards and a drop-box to return completed voter applications. Voters can register up to and on Election Day, but after Oct. 18 must register in-person.

Editor’s Note: Noah Forman ‘25 is the Digital Editor for The Student.