If you voted on Duke’s campus during the 2016 election, you have Adam Beyer to thank. And, if you have read the Duke Chronicle any time over the past four years, chances are good you read one of his dozens of stories, on everything from inchworms to sexual assault policies.
Beyer is one of two Terry Sanford Leadership Award winners this spring. He doesn’t fit the usual mold of a student leader at Duke. Reserved and soft-spoken, he listens first, then offers his take on the task and issue at hand.
“For Adam, listening and questioning are simply daily practices that come naturally to him. He cares deeply about the health of our democracy and about engaging his peers in political participation,” said Alma Blount, director of the Hart Leadership Program.
As president of the Duke Democrats during his sophomore and junior years, Beyer focused on registering Duke students to vote and securing an early voting site on campus.
“There are a lot of weird complications in registering students to vote in North Carolina, but it’s so important that they do. Duke students live here and engage as members of the Durham community all the time,” he said.
Regarding the on-campus voting site, it was not their first preference, he said. “I let other people handle the negotiations with the administration.” Instead, as the person who knew a lot about the legalities and history of voting, Beyer worked behind the scenes on strategy. When the early voting lagged behind the same 2012, Beyer appealed to Duke students’ competitive instincts through a social media campaign, which produced an immediate spike. He also acted as the “on-call” back up.
“If people couldn’t go out to register voters, I did. I personally registered hundreds of students, maybe close to a thousand,” he said.
In the general election, Gov. Roy Cooper received more than 3,000 votes from Duke students, almost one-third of Cooper’s 10,000 vote margin of victory.