Abigail White, a Xavier University junior, is passionate about accessible voting rights and increasing voter engagement with civic issues. A double major in Communication Studies and the Honor’s Philosophy, Politics, and the Public program, Abigail has engaged in political and civic activism complimentary to her course of study through campaign internships with a State House representative, and a local candidate for county prosecutor. Her campaign roles have provided insight into the voting experiences of communities of color and other historically marginalized groups. Abigail acknowledges the related but different challenges with improving voter turnout by her own peers in higher education. On campus, she has stepped into multiple civic leadership roles as a member of our Student Senate, and as the first undergraduate Fellow to support Xavier’s Take It On initiative, an institutional strategy that promotes better civic discourse among our students, faculty, and staff. Abigail works diligently to educate herself and her peers on voter and issue engagement, and the importance of healthy dialogue in politics.
I grew up in a small town where the polling station was the local church, and everyone voted on Election Day. When I arrived at college, I was shocked to see firsthand so many challenges with voting. I worked on a local campaign where I witnessed the inequalities of voting access. Whether people were able to arrange time off work, find transportation, or simply did not know their rights, there were voters who desperately wanted to vote but could not. Even as a student, I had to request my absentee ballot multiple times from state officials before finding success. As Xavier’s Take It On Fellow, I now foster dialogue, encourage voter participation, and educate our campus and broader community about voting rights. My most rewarding initiative invited a panel of classmates from diverse experiences and ideologies who encouraged their peers to vote, followed by an opportunity for students and community members to meet with Cincinnati City Council candidates to discuss the importance of voting in local elections. The words my peers spoke that day shaped how I now view my vote. It is not only my right, but also my duty to vote and help others do the same.