Chandler athlete leads ASU vote drive The Chandler Arizonan

Chandler athlete leads ASU vote drive

October 20th, 2020 Chandler Arizona Staff
Chandler athlete leads ASU vote drive
Sports and Recreation
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By Zach Alvira
Arizonan Sports Editor

Arizona State softball player Olivia Miller, a Chandler native and Corona del Sol grad, is trying to ensure Arizona State University athletes and staff vote Nov. 3.

The 20-year-old outfielder has been on a mission to register all of ASU’s athletes and staff since February, when she discovered only a small percentage of ASU athletes were registered.

“I would say based on the conversations I had with people, only about five percent of athletes and staff were registered at ASU,” Miller said. “It was kind of disheartening.

“We as athletes have an opportunity to use our platform to make a difference and letting our voices be heard at the polls is where it starts.”

Miller shared her plan with members of Sun Devil Athletics’ administration, who helped set it in motion shortly before the pandemic forced classes online and canceled all sports, including her softball season.

After the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, Miller put her initiative into high gear with the help of Sun Devil Athletics, the Andrew Goodman Foundation and the university as a whole.

In late September, Miller took additional steps in an effort to have all athletes registered.

“All of 2020 in all of its glory pushed me to make me realize something needs to change,” Miller said. “I don’t think voting is the only solution by any means, but at the end of the day, we have to start somewhere.

“If there is one thing from this crazy year you want to change,” she added, “I guarantee there is a position you can vote for.”

Miller said her family always stressed the importance of voting in every election. At a young age, she believed it was something all U.S. citizens do when they turn 18. But as she got older, she realized voting was a choice many of her peers ignored.

When Miller turned 17, her grandmother, Kimberly Carr, helped her and a couple of her friends register to vote.

Miller said Carr has been a poll worker for Maricopa County for several years and has shared her interest in politics with the rest of the family.

Additionally, Miller’s aunts are also deeply engulfed in politics. One even quit her job in an effort to work in an election. However, after the pandemic hit, she wasn’t able to be hired. Instead, she’s volunteered.

Miller said they’ve had several conversations about the upcoming election. But most importantly, they’ve highlighted why it is so important to vote.

“A lot of the things she and I talk about is why it is so important to get young people, at least at ASU, to register,” Miller said. “There isn’t enough time to be complacent.

“A lot of people say what is going on doesn’t affect them or they don’t like the candidates, I hear that a lot and I understand. But at this point in time, there’s no ignoring it. Even if it isn’t directly affecting you, it’s constantly in your face and affecting someone you know.”

Miller said she believes the number of student-athletes and staff registered to vote increased from her estimate of five percent to nearly 85 percent.

Miller’s initiative didn’t go unnoticed.

Her call to action echoed across the country, with other college programs jumping on board to encourage athletes to vote.

Miller said fellow Pac-12 school UCLA registered all of its athletes and staff, while several college football programs took time to register all of their athletes.

Additionally, the NCAA Division I Council passed legislation to give all athletes the first Tuesday in November off every year in order to vote – including this Nov. 3.

Beyond Arizona State athletics, Miller said several people she hasn’t spoken to in years have reached out to her about her initiative – including many of her former teammates at Corona del Sol who said they registered after witnessing her effort at ASU.

Miller said she never expected for her initiative to make as much of an impact as it has.

“I definitely did not expect to get nearly as many people registered to vote as I did,” Miller said, “and I know I’ve had a reach larger than just the athletic program.

“I didn’t realize it would go as far as it did.”

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