Editor’s Note: Members of the College Republic Committee did not respond to a request to be included in this story.
As it has for many years, Gettysburg College’s chapter of College Democrats for America has been active in Adams County politics in this fall’s elections. From collaboration with the Adams County Democratic Committee and local democratic candidates to student voter registration efforts, College Democrats are kept busy with advocacy work every year, including electoral off-years.
Along with their engagement efforts, College Democrats have hosted many prominent public figures, including former Lieutenant Governor and now incumbent U.S. Senator John Fetterman, former Congressman Conor Lamb, and former PA State Representative Brian Sims.
Vice President of College Democrats Adam Doran, a Junior majoring in political science and minoring in history, commented on the relationship, “We work hand in hand with the Adams County Democratic Committee. We work with them on strategizing for local elections, and we have a liaison. The committee relies on the College Democrats to drive student turnout for local elections, with student votes having the potential to swing elections for county council and school board positions.”
Last year, former President of College Democrats Carter Hanson, acting as a liaison to the county democrats, organized a petition among the college’s political groups to ask the school to request that the Gettysburg 2nd Ward voting place be moved back to Gettysburg College’s Student Center building. Gettysburg College Democrats, College Republicans, and Young Democratic Socialists of America signed on, and the petition helped convince the county commissioners to make the move.
The ward’s polling place, before the COVID-19 pandemic, was located on the college’s campus. It was moved to the firehouse on North Stratton Street in 2020 because the college’s mask mandate made it ineligible to serve as a polling place. The college had since dropped the mask mandate, and because of Hanson’s efforts, it was moved back. This has made it much easier for students to vote in person on election day.
College Democrats put in a significant amount of work in the months leading up to election day. “Every year, the College Democrats set up voter registration booths to encourage students to register and turn out to vote, especially in local and state elections that receive lower student turnout. We’ve always encouraged students to register in Pennsylvania as the state is not only a swing state at a national level but is also highly competitive at a state level,” said Doran.
Because of Pennsylvania’s unique status as pivotal state, Doran believes that Gettysburg College students who are not from Pennsylvania should register to vote here instead of in their home state. “Regardless of your political affiliation, your vote will have a greater impact in Pennsylvania than in most states,” he said.
Recently, College Democrats participated in a Q&A hosted by the Gettysburg chapter of Democracy for America, discussing the interests and efforts of young activists.
“This event was an effort to build ties with local organizations and strengthen our community, as community-level civic participation is vital. We have also completed canvassing training and have hosted a Pennsylvania politician. Coming up this semester, we have plans to host Adams County Democratic politicians and professor panels covering a variety of contemporary political topics,” said Doran.
Political Science Professor Douglas Page, faculty advisor to College Democrats, discussed the organization’s outreach efforts with Gettysburg Connection. “Along with College Democrats, we are knocking doors through the borough; they are participating in training with the state party in Harrisburg,” he said.
Page is active in Gettysburg politics, advocating for Alice Broadway, a Gettysburg College alumna, and Elizabeth Blanc’s school board campaigns. He also supports Alicia Sanders in the tightly contested Ward 3 borough council election.
Doran believes that the importance of state and local politics are downplayed. “Often, when we run registration booths, people say that they want to vote in local elections in their state and so don’t want to vote here, but while most of us only live here for a short time, it can’t be overlooked that our votes can change the lives of the people who live here,” he said.
Doran concluded by stating, “This is especially important as state elections and politicians make important decisions for millions of people that can’t always be made at a national level in such a politically divided country. Often, when we see headlines about a shocking, radical, or groundbreaking policy being passed, it is a state policy that has been passed.”
Featured image captions:
Left: Former Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA) talked to Gettysburg College Democrats at the Ragged Edge Coffee House in Gettysburg during his 2022 U.S. Senate run.
Right: Members of College Democrats with then-candidate Governor Josh Shapiro.
Vincent DiFonzo, intern, is a junior student at Gettysburg College, originally from West Chester, PA. He is studying international affairs and history with minors in political science and economics. Outside Gettysburg Connection, Vince is an editor for the Gettysburg Social Science Review (GSSR), serves as the opinions editor for the Gettysburgian and works for as the managing editor of Ike's Anvil. Vince loves traveling, geography, and discovering new music, and will study abroad in Berlin this spring.