Taking Your Shot to Vote

St. John’s Men’s Basketball Head Coach Mike Anderson is looking to educate his team on more than just skills for the court. He is looking to sharpen their skills as citizens too. Thus, the St. John’s Men’s Basketball team welcomed Queens community organizer and activist James Johnson to Carnesecca Arena on Aug. 28, where they collectively held a socially-distant event on voter registration. 

“Today was very informative and productive for our players,” Anderson tweeted after the event. “We discussed voter registration and voting rights. We ended the day with 100% of our team registering to vote. Go Red Storm!”

Junior guard Greg Williams was present at the event and spoke about the importance of registering to vote in a telephone interview with the Torch on Sept. 8. He also emphasized the importance of the next step, particularly for younger individuals: going out to vote.

“It’s very important — it can lead to a lot of different things, big things to change,” Williams said.

During the event  the entire team registered to vote and discussed their plans to vote in the upcoming election. Educating these players on the registration process can help others register before early voting begins in New York on Oct. 24.

With the next presidential election less than 50 days away, some people have voiced concern that they may not be able to have a say in this year’s election – this year, due to the pandemic, there will be an influx of absentee ballots, also known as mail-in ballots. This creates a huge problem for out-of-state college students, many of whom are just beginning their experiences with voting and are trying to vote through the mail in order to have their votes counted in time.The current presidential administration has spoken out loudly against mail-in voting because it could lead to “voter fraud.” 

Williams is right there with many other Americans and fellow out-of-state college students. The Louisiana-native will be using an absentee ballot to cast his vote this coming November, and he is worried that his vote will not be counted in time. 

Some students may not even think about voting if they are not in their hometowns. They may only know of in-person voting, and this is worrisome. 

“People need to know [about mail-in ballots],” he said, “because some people might not be counted or do not do it because they are out-of-state.”

Williams said that all ways to vote need to be spread around campus.

On college campuses, Williams proposed that professors should help students find resources and emphasize the importance of voting. Professors can email these resources to their students, post them onto Canvas or Blackboard or even create an assignment for students to register to vote. Efforts should also be made in making sure that people are aware of whether or not their state allows early voting. 

Willams said he tried to vote early because, “it has to get done.” Each state has its own early voting timeline, so when looking up how to register to vote people should be paying close attention to the dates that early voting is allowed in their state.

In a tweet to Anderson, Johnson thanked Anderson for the opportunity to speak to the team about the importance of voting and registering all the players present to vote. 

“Excited for these young men’s future,” Johnson said. 

As Williams stressed, young people must register and cast their votes to see change in our future. Although there may be concerns that people’s votes will not count this fall, the Red Storm learned from Johnson that every vote does indeed count.