Matthew Bell, a sophomore at the University of Puget Sound, demonstrates great commitment to civic and political engagement for the greater good. He serves as our campus Voter Engagement Specialist, working in our Center for Intercultural and Civic Engagement to increase access to voter registration and help students register to vote. Matthew actively questions the causes of social inequity, viewing engagement both as a privilege and as a necessity for creating change. In his work, he recognizes that access to voting and participating in electing those who create our laws is not made equitably available for all people, particularly those from minoritized backgrounds. He attempts to combat this reality by reducing barriers to registration and voting for young adults while fostering a culture of engaged, intentional involvement in our political systems. I am pleased to nominate Matthew as an individual with a deep excitement for learning and desire to improve the world through civic action in the political realm. He will be an asset to the program, a great representative of the university, and will also grow and be shaped by the experience in service to others.
I have helped register young people to vote long before I was in any official role. In high school I constantly reminded my peers to register to vote once they were eligible to do so. Additionally, I have served on various campaigns in my hometown school district where I was tasked with encouraging young people to vote. I believe in voter and civic engagement because it allows us all to be active participants in our democracy. While the institutions are far from perfect, I want to use my talents and abilities to change the system so that more young people are able to participate. As the current Voter Engagement Specialist at the University of Puget Sound, I take seriously the responsibilities I have to make the ballot box more accessible to our students who come from a variety of states. I acknowledge that not all students have the interest to register to vote or file for an absentee ballot; I am working to make the process of doing so easier. Through reaching out to residence halls and campus organizations or hosting voter registration drives, I am finding ways to overcome institutional factors that make voting inaccessible to college students.