Meet Georgia State panther Evan Malbrough

A&L POTY 2020. Photo courtesy of Evan Malbourgh

On March 9, Georgia State hosted the first student-run polling location on a college campus in American history because one Georgia State Panther decided to take the right to vote into his own hands — but this wasn’t his first feat.

Evan Malbrough, a Georgia State student, started his political journey with the Young Democrats at Georgia State, a chapter ofchapter of the Young Democrats of Georgia. He joined during the fall of 2016, his first semester at Georgia State. In the spring of 2017, he became voter registration and organizing chair as well as secretary of the Young Democrats. 

Upon finishing his first academic year at Georgia State, Malbrough assumed the position as president of the Young Democrats in May.

He took advantage of his time in the Young Democrats to organize political and historical events.

“[We hosted] gubernatorial and senate candidates like Stacey Evans. We hosted her meeting at [Georgia State],” Malbrough said. “We [also] collaborated on an event with Ida B. Wells’ great-granddaughter.”

The events Malbrough organized weren’t just restricted to public figures; he also helped organize events for students.

During the week that Malbrough became president of the Young Democrats, he also co-founded the Georgia State chapter of Vote Everywhere. Malbrough is currently an ambassador of the organization.

“In 2019, the Georgia State Vote Everywhere team was awarded the Patton Award for Outstanding Student Organization,” according to an article in The Signal. “They have been at Georgia State for three years and frequently host voting drives, an effort to register eligible voters.”

Malbrough believes the event that led to the team receiving the Patton Award was the National Voter Registration Day events. 

“We partnered with four organizations and we operated four registration drives at the same time on National Voter Registration Day,” he said.

Malbrough also credits their reception of the award to the Vote Everywhere partnership with the political science department at Georgia State.

“We go into American government classes, and we discuss voting and Andrew Goodman and his advocacy story,” he said.

Vote Everywhere hosted the first annual Great Debate between the Georgia State College Republicans and Young Democrats in 2018 with Malbrough as the main organizer. The third annual debate couldn’t occur this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vote Everywhere is a program within the Andrew Goodman Foundation, a non-profit parent organization. Malbrough is also a part of the Andrew Goodman Foundation’s op-ed writing program.

While he was writing an op-ed about poll work, he came up with the idea to create the student-run polling location.

The Fulton County Office of Elections offered an idea that would allow Malbrough’s polling location while also increasing voter turnout. Their idea was to have a polling location that would migrate to different college campuses in order to get students more involved in voting.

“The students who live in Fulton County, who are on campus, it’s a one-stop-shop for them to be able to vote so it can increase turnout of students who likely would not have either known or would not have had the opportunity to cast a ballot,” Malbrough said. 

He knew they wouldn’t be able to operate a polling location for the general election so a part of the negotiation with Fulton County included an outreach location as a tester.

“Two days of early voting in order to do it. It worked out really well because it’s hard to rent out an entire room at [Georgia State] for three days straight,” Malbrough said. “It’ll probably be impossible to do that for a month, and I think the turnout would’ve plateaued very quickly if it was a full location.”

The polling location was a collaborative effort between the Student Government Association, Vote Everywhere and Fulton County.

On January 23, during the first SGA university-wide meeting of the spring semester, Malbrough announced that Georgia State would host the polling location. This was Malbrough’s last major announcement before leaving SGA. He joined in May 2019 as the communications director, but his work toward jumpstarting the polling location didn’t end there.

On March 8, Malbrough and the Vote Everywhere team spent that entire Sunday setting up for the following days. 

The polling location was open to students March 9 and 10 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the State Ballroom on the first floor of Student Center East.

The location was scheduled to pack up and rotate among Georgia schools, including Agnes Scott, Atlanta Metropolitan Tech and the Atlanta University Center schools — Spelman, Morehouse, Morehouse School of Medicine and Clark Atlanta.

The Georgia Tech location ran simultaneously with Georgia’s State polling location. However, Georgia Tech’s was run by Fulton County employees rather than students.

Early voting in Georgia ended the second week of March and was postponed until April 27 to May 15 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Malbrough, the rotation of the polling location should continue after things go back to normal.

“We are actively working to expand it so that, in the general election, we might have Georgia State become an early voting and … Election Day polling site,” he said.

This would allow Georgia State to open the student-run polling location two days in October before the general election as well as on November 3, Election Day.

Malbrough will be assisting the expansion of the student-run polling location next year as an alumni. He is unable to provide specific details until everything has been finalized but he can say that “voting is going to get more entertaining next election.”

Malbrough has used his four years at Georgia State to make a change in civic engagement, but his journey won’t stop after graduation.