Local Impact, Student News

Elections and Onward

Bronwyn Edwards ’19 initially entered Bennington intending to study literature and pursue publishing. As her time at the College evolved, she discovered a love for theatre and used her Field Work Terms (FWT) and internships to delve into experiences at Primary Stages, New York Public Radio, the New York State Council for the Arts, and more.

Polling Stations

Now in her final year at Bennington, Edwards is continuing to explore and develop new expertise, particularly through her growing interest in politics. During midterm elections on November 6, Edwards worked as an Associated Press stringer at the Bennington polls, reporting out local results for the town.

What were your election night responsibilities?

“I showed up at the polls in downtown Bennington at the fire station 20 minutes before the polls closed, and I waited in a group with the rest of the press. There were about 15 reporters, as well as a few candidates who were waiting for the results.

After an hour and a half, a woman who was working the polls came over with the compiled results from Bennington and North Bennington and read each of the numbers. There were about 30 people on the ballot, so I wrote the results down, called the Associated Press, and reported the numbers.

The process wasn’t that complicated for Bennington because it’s a smaller polling area, whereas some people in bigger cities were there for hours and reporting all through the night. I was told about 5,000 people, over 50 percent of those registered, voted in Bennington. They didn’t have the final numbers at the time, but they said that was the largest midterm they had in Bennington.”

What surprised you about the experience?

“I had no idea what to expect. I had a training session with AP, where I called in and reported a fake set of numbers, but there wasn’t much training about what the actual experience would be like.

However, the experience made me much more in tune to what was going on in local politics. I voted absentee in New York a few weeks ago, but I hadn’t paid attention much to Vermont politics since I’ve been here. With this position, and with my next FWT, which will be at the Vermont state legislature, I’ve become more involved with local politics. I’ve learned more about Vermont and Bennington issues specifically.”

How has your election involvement changed the way you view Vermont politics?

“Vermont is interesting because the reality of the state is different than the perception of the state. I’ve been here four years now, and I’m learning more about the conservative side of Vermont and how that influences policies. I'm looking forward to working at the legislature over FWT and being involved there. I’m becoming more intricately aware of what’s going on in the state instead of just looking at Vermont as one thing. It’s complicated, as all states are.”

How has your political involvement deepened during your time at Bennington?

“I wasn’t going to take many politics classes this term. I was going to focus more on drama and writing, but I enrolled in a one-credit Public Policy lecture series in CAPA, and it’s completely changed the way I want to approach my work. I was inspired, so I approached Susan Sgorbati and Brian Campion, who teach the course and coordinate the speakers, about getting more involved.

Leading up to the election, Daisy Clennon ’21 and I spearheaded a voter registration drive. We talked to house chairs to spread the world, and we tabled in the dining hall. We had Vermont registration forms available for those who needed them and provided information about absentee ballots.

Vermont has same-day voter registration, so if students didn’t get their absentee ballot, or if something went wrong in the process, they had the option to still register day-of.

This term, I got involved in politics on campus, and over FWT, I'm excited to work with Brian at the Vermont legislature. That will be a great opportunity, as well as something I’ve never experienced before. Also, apparently, Montpelier averages over 90 inches of snow per year...

I’m still not sure what I want to do after Bennington, but I’m more interested in political journalism. We’ll see how FWT goes, but I’m veering more into politics than I’d expected.”     

By Natalie Redmond, Associate Writer