In what has turned out to be one of the most important elections in modern history, the Oglethorpe community came out in force to encourage voter participation and help inform others about the process.
The new OU SOAR Lab (Social Media Observations Analytics Research), a new coalition of students dedicated to analyzing social media trends, devoted time to monitoring the election through Twitter and Instagram.
Using social media listening tools, the research lab sought to understand the larger conversation around the elections. They monitored the news and used the listening tools to understand sentiment around the races, the volume of the discussion, and what topics were getting the most attention. Specifically, the group was committed to publishing reports of voter suppression and news surrounding the three key Georgia races—two Senate seats and the Presidential race. They posted helpful graphics on social media detailing their findings on Election Day.
— OUSOARlab (@OusoaRlab) November 4, 2020
“This is our first undertaking, so it will be a learning experience, but the students decided what they wanted to do and I hope it helps us all not only learn about the role of social media in a situation like an election, but to get through this challenging night together,’ said Assistant Professor of Communication Studies Kate Keib, who oversees the OU SOAR Lab.
Additionally, many Oglethorpe students like Rachel Lester ’23 worked at the polls on election day. Her job was to help ensure people were voting in the correct precinct.
Lester’s and other students’ involvement at the polls represents growing participation from younger generations in politics in general.
“I’m super passionate about what’s at stake in this election, especially for young voters, there’s so much on the line. It’s imperative that we get everyone out to vote,” said junior Jordan Bogle, who was interviewed at the polls for a Live Election Blog for YR Media.
On election day, members the Oglethorpe chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha passed out water and snacks to voters waiting in lines.
In the weeks leading up to the election, the Center for Civic Engagement released helpful infographics for voter awareness and held multiple informational sessions to help the community vote. Together with the Philip Weltner Library, they also compiled a helpful Voter Preparedness collection on LinkedIn Learning to help the community make informed voting decisions.
With both Georgia Senate races currently heading for a runoff election, the Oglethorpe community will no doubt continue to encourage voter participation and help drive the community to the polls.