Under the guidance of Political Science Professor Laura van Assendelft, Mary Baldwin students will present live coverage of the Virginia gubernatorial election to the campus community on November 5, building upon the success of last year’s Live Election that covered the re-election of President Barack Obama.
Students will again serve as anchors, camera operators, researchers, and interviewees, but this year the focus will be on state politics. Van Assendelft hopes that this project will help encourage students to increase their civic engagement year-round, even in the absence of a presidential election.
“This race will have more immediate relevance to Mary Baldwin students who are Virginia residents, and what we hope to convey is the excitement about this race as a bellwether election for national politics,” van Assendelft said. “Sparks have been flying for months between the two candidates, and I am confident that our students will want to play close attention to what they are saying about some controversial issues, including abortion and gay marriage, in addition to jobs, taxes, climate change, and healthcare.”
Senior Holly Johnston — political director for Live Election 2013 and previously director of the “war room” for the 2012 broadcast — will be in charge of ensuring that every participant has unbiased information about both candidates. The event brings together voters representing different parties and aims to spark discussion on- and off-camera. With prior experience in national and state campaigns, Johnston looks forward to involving the Mary Baldwin community in state politics.
“I would hope that I speak for the other leadership — student and faculty — that the main goal of the broadcast is to show students that they can be involved and that they have a voice … an informed one, fully equipped with the right information to make an educated decision on Election Day,” she said.
The Virginia Campus Election Engagement Project awarded Mary Baldwin the 2012 Democracy Cup, including a $500 stipend that is helping to fund this year’s event.
“The best part for me is when a student gets involved in the Live Election project and discovers that learning about politics is both interesting and fun … and that they want to continue their involvement beyond the election and beyond Mary Baldwin,” van Assendelft said.
Mary Baldwin students, faculty, and staff can watch the Live Election broadcast on Election Day, November 5, in Miller Chapel.