Eastern Michigan University students Naomi Barbour and Jason Folk leading the charge to amplify voter participation

Eastern Michigan University students Naomi Barbour and Jason Folk leading the charge to amplify voter participation

YPSILANTI — As the presidential election approaches this November, Eastern Michigan University students Naomi Barbour and Jason Folk are spearheading initiatives to amplify voter participation on campus. 

Barbour, a junior majoring in political science, is no stranger to inspiring students to exercise their right to vote. She participated in the Get Out the Vote campaign at Eastern, contributing to the highest increase in young voters between 18-24 registering to vote in 2022.  In 2023, Barbour served as Eastern’s liaison to the Secretary of State's Collegiate Student Advisory Task Force (CSATF), a partnership between the Michigan Department of State and Campus Vote Project (CVP).

Naomi Barbour

“It is essential to make your voice heard and be part of the democratic process,” said Barbour. “Whether joining a campus club or participating in a political campaign, your involvement is crucial for upholding democratic values. This not only inspires me to engage in voter participation efforts actively but also motivates me to encourage my fellow students to get involved.”

Barbour's central objective is to narrow the gender-based voting gap within academic studies at Eastern. Leveraging insights from the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, she intends to tackle voting disparities linked to gender and academic majors. Barbour's strategy involves using this data to design tailored events that cater to underrepresented groups, ultimately working to bridge the existing gap. 

In addition to leveraging her research and voter insights, she also plans to host a series of Voter Identification Clinics for the 2024 elections through Eastern’s Political Science Department to address concerns about voter identification. The Voter Identification Clinics will provide information and assist any student or community members with questions regarding voter identification or the voting process.

Jason Folk

Like Barbour, other Eastern students are hard at work encouraging voter participation. As Eastern’s new liaison for CSATF, Jason Folk, a freshman majoring in philosophy, intends to inform Michigan college students about their voting options. Voting initiatives like state-wide student voter summits are in the planning stages at CSATF.

“I want to let people know all of the options we have as Michigan college students,” said Folk. “Voting is a foundational right in our republic, and it is very easy to get lost in the shuffle of being a college student.” 

Barbour and Folk serve as CVP Democracy Fellows, responsible for informing peers about election laws and upcoming ballot issues. Folk and others in the campus CVP chapter launched the EMU Voter Coalition in January 2024, a joint initiative between EMU Engage and CVP. The coalition, a key component of their efforts, aims to equip Eastern students, staff, and faculty with tools and knowledge for active participation in the democratic process, elevating voter turnout and fostering civic responsibility and education at Eastern.

Through the initiatives of Barbour and Folk, both have the opportunity to use their voice on their social media pages to amplify their message and reach their goals. Folk said social media is a huge tool for their work and message. 

The work of students like Barbour and Folk has contributed to Eastern’s designation as a "voter-friendly campus" by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. Along with other Eastern students, they work continuously to increase civic engagement on campus and in the broader Ypsilanti community.

“Our democracy does not work unless it works for all of us,” said Folk. “The only way it can work for all of us is by voting. It's as simple as that.” 

For more information about Voting at Eastern, visit the webpage.

About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 13,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and its graduate school. National publications regularly recognize EMU for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. Visit the University’s rankings and points of pride websites to learn more. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website. To stay up to date on University news, activities and announcements, visit EMU Today.

February 13, 2024

Written by:
Media Relations

Media Contact:
Melissa Thrasher