March 14, 2021
Sarah Muir ’24
Students Against Voter Suppression (SAVS) is a student-led organization that focuses on voter education, advocacy, and policy, and is looking for new members to join the NC chapter and state board of directors. Through SAVS, participants can choose from a variety of opportunities, contribute to social change, and make connections with like-minded students nationwide.
The 2020 Elections saw one of the most significant voter turnouts in American history catalyzed by activism and organization around the country to register eligible voters and promote civic engagement. In the 2020 general elections, 158.4 million people voted, comprising almost two thirds of eligible voters. Voter turnout saw a seven percent increase between 2016 and 2020. This success does not evidence the defeat of voter suppression, but rather the extraordinary results that are possible when voter suppression is resisted.
Although most students are not able to vote themselves, to the preservation of our democracy. Because of this, Students Against Voter Suppression was founded in August of 2020 in order to allow students across the United States to advocate for legislation that advances voter rights. Despite significant advancements in our voting systems, attempted disenfranchisement occurs at the local, state, and national level, from limited polling locations to intensified voter ID laws to the assault on the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which is yet to be renewed in the Senate. SAVS works in legislation and directly with voters to stand up against coordinated attempts at suppression. Our sole intent is to protect the constitutional, inherent right to vote for all citizens.
With this goal in mind, SAVS has led a number of campaigns. For example, the California branch as well as the greater organization petitioned for an end to false ballot boxes that were placed around California to divert the votes of mail-in voters last year. Additionally, SAVS recruited dozens of students to work at polling places around the country for the general election who helped to staff polling locations when many regular poll workers were sidelined by COVID-19. In the new year, members will soon be able to join task forces focused on gerrymandering, voter education, electoral politics, voter registration, and voter logistics, respectively.
SAVS is currently advocating for H.R.1, the “For The People Act” that would expand voting rights and reduce the influence of money in elections. On Saturday, February 27, a group of leaders spoke at a youth writing event hosted by our partner, the Declaration for American Democracy, where participants sent letters and other written communications to officials in support of the bill.
More recently, for Black History Month, SAVS focused on telling the stories of Black suffrage leaders each day of February. Throughout the year, we specifically address the disenfranchisement of Black voters in a modern context, especially given that Black voters are frequently targeted in voter suppression efforts and gerrymandering. We believe that by fighting voter suppression, we can work to dismantle a foundational pillar of systemic racism in America and use democracy as a tool to end systemic racism as a whole.
Members of SAVS have a number of options in terms of commitment, leadership, and participation. All members must attend monthly national organization-wide meetings once per month (or give advance notice of an absence), usually on the first Sunday night of the month. Aside from those meetings, members can adjust to their personal schedules. Contributions include joining your state board, becoming part of a task force for a specific issue, creating a local chapter, participating in a book club, and writing for SAVS’ newspaper partner, the Youth Digest. Right now, the North Carolina State Board is looking for interested activists to join any of four positions: communications director, creative director, expansion director, and operations director. For those board positions, you can find more information about those positions or fill out an application here. To join the state chapter and national organization, you can fill out a Google Form here to submit your interest.