A new voting campaign is dedicated to making sure every student has access
By: Alexis McCaffrey, Fourth Estate Culture Editor
This story was originally published on gmufourthestate.com. Fourth Estate is Mason’s official student-run newspaper.
A new voting campaign on campus partnered with REV UP Virginia is centered around students with disabilities ensuring they have access to voting. This campaign looks to empower students to vote regardless of their disability. In order to make sure that students are registered and ready to vote!
“REV UP (Register, Educate, Vote, Use your power) is a voting campaign that is nonpartisan and has an initiative focused on advancing the power of the disability vote. Often times people in the disability community face voter suppression, or inaccessibility, at the voting polls and through remote voting systems” said Associate Director of Mason Autism Support Initiative, Jennifer Torrance.
This new program was created back in March 2022 and it is officially being put to use this fall semester due to the upcoming midterm election.
“We originally started the conversations after REV UP reached out to Disability Services in March 2022. Since then, we have worked with local REV UP members, as well as other state-wide members for planning the event. We chose the date for our event as it is in the middle of Disability Voting Rights Week” said Torrance.
“REV UP Virginia specifically wanted to reach students with disabilities during Disability Voting Rights Week (DVRW), September 12-16, and have youth-related DVRW voter registration and education event in Fairfax County.”
“GMU became the perfect partner to meet these two objectives. REV UP Virginia greatly appreciates the staff of GMU’s Disability Services Office, Mason LIFE, and Office of Community Engagement and Civic Learning for helping make the September 14 DVRW event possible” said co-chair of REV UP Virginia, Helena Berger.
Although originally REV UP was based in Texas it has now made its way to Virginia and impacted so many people’s lives.
“REV UP was initially REV UP Texas — the brainchild of disability rights advocates in Texas. In 2016, REV UP Texas agreed to hand off this effort to the American Association of People with Disabilities so they could develop this state initiative into a national campaign. REV UP Virginia, also a statewide disability vote coalition, was launched in April 2021. The coalition is comprised of interested individuals as well as representatives from diverse disability organizations and ally groups who are working collectively to advance the disability vote in the Commonwealth” said Berger.
The importance of this event is the inclusion and accessibility it provides to all members of the community here on campus.
“While this event is focused on people with disabilities, it’s important to acknowledge that the disability community is made up for many different intersecting identities. Due to this, this event has impacted many groups, including, LGBTQIA+, people of color, and other marginalized groups,” said Torrance.