Deacs Decide gears up for the midterms

After Wake Forest boasted impressive turnout numbers in 2020, Deacs Decide looks to encourage student voting


Courtesy of OCCE

Deacs Decide encourages students to vote in elections and provides nonpartisan information on voting.

Addison Schmidt, Staff Writer

With midterm elections approaching, many political parties are trying to get college students to the polls, including on Wake Forest’s campus. On Nov. 8, 2022, midterm elections will be held in every precinct across the country, with races differing based on location. This year’s races in Forsyth County include the race for U.S. Senate, multiple Forsyth County Board of Education seats, the U.S. House of Representative races in every precinct and various other positions at the county and state levels. 

Senior Drew Skilton is the co-director of Deacs Decide, Wake Forest’s political engagement project run by the Office of Civic and Community Engagement. Deacs Decide seeks to get Wake Forest students out to vote with the aim of providing non-partisan resources with details on how to vote, where to vote and what candidates are running in local elections. 

After a successful 2020 campaign in which 78.2% of Wake Forest students voted, Deacs Decide is once again aiming to ensure student participation in this year’s election. Midterm efforts include an early polling station just off-campus, march to the polls events and non-partisan candidate overviews for those voting in Forsyth County. 

“We’re looking closely at doing marches to the polls, so you can go with friends [or] you can go with other people. And we’ll make sure to try to have people on hand to help answer questions [about the election],” Skilton said. “We’re going to do as many [marches to the polls] as we can, to really help people go in groups. And on election day, we’re working on plans to have shuttles running to the two different [voting] sites.”

According to North Carolina law, Skilton says, Wake Forest students may vote either in their home state or in Forsyth County through their current address, either on or off campus. However, students who have voted using an on-campus address in the past must ensure that their voter registration has been updated to reflect their current residence because Wake Forest’s campus is divided between two voting precincts. This fact, along with shorter lines and having time to vote, is why Skilton encourages students to vote early at the Winston-Salem First Assembly early voting site just off campus on Polo Road. 

“We really are pushing students to vote early because they can update their [address and] change their registration [on site],” Skilton says in reference to early voting. “They can register for the first time and vote in the same spot, and it really does not take a lot of time.” 

Early voting for this year’s midterm elections begins on Monday, Oct. 20 and runs through Saturday, Nov. 5. Students who don’t vote early can vote on election day at their designated site, but Skilton emphasizes that Deacs Decide highly encourages students to vote early to avoid confusion.

“There’s always a chance your voter registration form may not have updated…[if this happens] you may have issues voting at the wrong location. It’s a lot easier to take that five-minute walk to the church [and early vote],” Skilton says.

Sophomore Tarak Duggal, a Deacs Decide co-chair, emphasizes the importance of voting as a form of making the voices of students and younger people heard.

“By voting, young people make sure that all of our voices are heard, whatever those views might be,” Duggal said while talking about his motivation for joining Deacs Decide. “Many people may think that their vote doesn’t matter and this is not true! Elections can often be decided by a handful of votes, which means students can make a real difference by taking the time to vote.”

Duggal continued: ”Young voters are often the ones most impacted by elections, but young voter participation has historically lagged behind the participation rates of older adults.” 

Wake Forest students, whether they choose to vote in Forsyth County or their home state, have the opportunity to sway the results of elections, especially in swing states like North Carolina. 

Although it hasn’t been released yet, Deacs Decide will release a non-partisan summary through the OCCE website in the coming weeks with the hopes of providing students with factual, easily accessible information on candidates in local elections.

“Deacs Decide is going to be releasing our nonpartisan voter profiles and our voter packets to make students aware of what’s on their ballot. But I definitely recommend [that] students take the time to do their own research and look at candidates as well as policies,” Skilton says. 

When it comes to outside resources, Skilton recommends that students voting locally utilize the sample ballots available on the Forsyth County Board of Elections website, while Duggal suggests utilizing to find out about voter registration deadlines in their state. In North Carolina, the deadline to register to vote online for this year’s election is Oct. 14, 2022, but in-person registration continues through Nov. 5, 2022 at all early voting locations across the state. 

Students studying abroad in the Fall 2022 semester should visit as soon as possible in order to obtain information on voting from overseas.