October 5, 2020

Dear Staff and Faculty,

Civic engagement has long been a deeply held value at Trinity. We not only encourage active participation, we embed opportunities for civic engagement into our curricular and co-curricular offerings. Over the past year, our TrinVotes Committee has been working on an initiative to increase voter participation among our students.

This week is National Voter Education Week (NVEW), a nonpartisan voter education campaign designed to provide helpful information on voting in this year’s election. Many states have expanded access to voting by absentee ballot so it’s likely many voters will have questions about the process.  National Voter Education Week can be an important resource for you.

I want to do even more to encourage voter participation, so I am pleased to announce a presidential discretionary day for staff on Election Day, November 3, 2020. Given the pandemic, we know that many voters will elect to vote by absentee ballot this year. Over the past couple of weeks, some concerns have been expressed about the capacity of local election officials to efficiently manage an unprecedented number of absentee ballots. A day off from work for staff is meant to make it easier for those who want to vote in-person to do so. Faculty may reserve the right to cancel their classes for the day to support students who want to vote in person.

Governor Lamont, Lieutenant Governor Bysiewicz, and Secretary of the State Denise Merrill are encouraging employers to provide time off for employees to vote throughout the day to reduce density at polling stations. Additionally, they are asking the public to consider volunteering on Election Day. There is a critical need for volunteers to work at the polls and for individuals to work in local offices to assist with counting ballots. Training is provided; more information can be found here.

Please consider helping out in a way that is comfortable for you. Whatever you decide to do, you will make a difference. Some members of our staff have essential responsibilities that may prevent them from taking this discretionary day, but I encourage you to speak with your manager to determine if there is some flexibility that can be provided for you to vote in person during the day if practical.

Voting is the one of the most important contributions you can make as a citizen. It is your right, your responsibility, and your way of making your voice heard. Thank you all for making Trinity College the special place that it is and for living our institutional value of engagement in the life of our community.


Joanne Berger-Sweeney
President and Trinity College Professor of Neuroscience