Luke Henne | Editor-in-Chief
Sept. 22, 2022
Duquesne University welcomed the League of Women Voters to campus on Monday, where they hosted a voter registration event at Gumberg Library, hoping to “share information, remove barriers and encourage voter participation for all eligible voters.”
Members of the league — an all-volunteer organization — stood outside and inside the library, assisting those who passed by and those who entered the building. They answered questions and helped those who were interested in filling out the necessary forms to get registered.
Devon George, an accounting and economics student at Duquesne, was happy to get registered in a state like Pennsylvania which has become a “swing state” in recent elections.
In a time where disinformation is prevalent in the political sphere, the organization hopes to provide a nonpartisan perspective that encourages individuals to think for themselves.
Judy Clack, vice president of voter services, has been in the league for nearly five decades, and it all started with something simple that blossomed into a larger cause.
“Forty-six years ago, I was interested in recycling, and I got involved in the League of Women Voters at that time,” Clack said. “Now, my major focus is voter service, where we do voter education, voter registration and candidate forums.”
Dallas DiLeo, a volunteer for the LVW’s voter service committee, said that she’s not happy with “all the rhetoric and disinformation” surrounding elections and voter participation.
“We just have to convince more people that it is so important on every level,” DiLeo said. “ … You have to be a registered voter to advocate for any cause that you want to support, whether it’s clean water, better animal protections. They funnel up through government. [For] a registered voter, that’s your voice.”
Clack said that it “makes [her] very sad” when she hears individuals refrain from the voting process for reasons such as believing that their vote doesn’t matter or that their voice can’t truly be heard.
“I try to encourage them to register and to vote, because their vote does matter,” Clack said. “If you saw the number of people who say their vote doesn’t matter, they would outnumber the people who are voting. That means that the people who are voting are making the decisions for us all.
“We want everyone to register and everyone to vote, no matter what their political party or feeling is on issues. It’s very important for our country to represent the people. We hope everyone will register, and everyone will vote.”
DiLeo said that the first event she attended as part of the league was on Juneteenth, which coupled itself with a pride-related event in Downtown Pittsburgh.
While she was thrilled to talk about what people cared about, it was already a very-active demographic when it comes to civic participation. In a nonpartisan line of volunteering, she wants to make sure everyone’s voice is accounted for.
“We didn’t register many because it was already the population that was Downtown,” DiLeo said. “[Those are] already motivated populations, so we only got one or two, but we had a lot of great conversations with people.
“We need everybody telling everybody how important it is to vote.”
Clack encouraged those seeking more guidance to utilize the website, vote411.org, to find pertinent information on candidates’ answers to questions, in the candidates’ own words. Individuals can also register to vote and/or verify voter registration on the website.
DiLeo, a librarian by profession, said that she appreciates a good information source. She described the league’s website, connected with Vote411, as “fabulous.”
There’s been an added layer to the LVW’s challenge in recruiting individuals to register, given that the group just recently resumed traditional events like Monday’s voter registration event following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Clack said that she had to cancel 34 registration events at the height of the pandemic. In the interim between then and now, Zoom became the prevailing way of holding these sessions.
Although it might not be the most entertaining thing in the world, Clack knows that some will be more than willing to do their civic duty.
“I think people appreciate being reminded to vote, and feeling good that they already are registered,” Clack said. “It’s very energizing to register people.”
Regardless of whether the league holds an event on a college campus or at a farmer’s market, DiLeo hopes that they can assist by any means necessary, and whenever possible.
“I’m doing this today. I’m going to Clairton Public Library tomorrow,” DiLeo said. “I’ve never been to Clairton. It’s only 15 miles from my house. I’m going. And I’m going to a block party, a community day thing, on Saturday in Coraopolis. That’s also only about 15 miles away from me. A lot of it is just chatting people up.”
While George said that he doesn’t see politics making a large impact in his day-to-day life, he knows that not everyone can say the same, making an event like Monday’s essential.
“It may not matter to you, but it’ll probably affect someone else,” George said. “Do it for them.”