Want to earn $250 for being a good citizen? That’s the pitch the D.C. Board of Elections (BOE) made to students on Wednesday, October 4 at a tent outside Ely Center featuring voting machines, trivia games, and giveaways. The event—sponsored by Government and Public Affairs and the Center for Democracy in Deaf America (CDDA)—was part of Voter Registration Education Week.

DC Board of Elections ADA Coordinator Jay Penuel demonstrates how to use a voting machine.

In addition to making sure Gallaudet students are registered to vote in the 2024 primary and general elections, BOE is hoping that they will get more involved. “We’re looking to actively recruit signing election workers. Yes, it’s ‘volunteer,’ but it comes with a $250 stipend,” explained BOE ADA coordinator Jay Penuel, who wants to put a vote center on the Gallaudet campus next year with an entirely signing staff.

All of the District’s vote centers need volunteers in several positions to help the process go smoothly, including registration clerks, voter assistance clerks, and ballot clerks. Providing language access is a critical part of that work, Penuel added. “We’re making sure people with disabilities have access to voting,” he said.

Penuel and other representatives from BOE demonstrated how the voting equipment works and were available to answer questions about how votes are collected and counted.

Students could ask questions, play election trivia games, and take home masks, lanyards, pens, and bags.

This is relevant information, particularly to our campus community, said Dr. David Penna, a professor in the Government and Public Affairs program in the School of Civic Leadership, Business, and Social Change, who was also at the tent. “Students here at Gallaudet realize that government is important to their lives,” said Penna, who noted that deaf schools have closed in some states, making it tougher to find learning environments that emphasize American Sign Language. “Between that and threats to water down the ADA, it can have a very direct impact.”

Students interested in the elections can expect more upcoming events, including CDDA’s “Fear, Loathing, and Laughing at Rathskellar: A Comedy Show about the 2024 Elections,” on October 19 at 8 p.m

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