This election season, several College organizations made sure there wasn’t any excuse for students not to vote, with numerous voter registration and absentee ballot drives occuring on campus.
For the Student Government Association (SGA), reaching out to potential voters has been a semester-long agenda.
“In total, SGA helped about 400 people to register to vote,” Michael Peters, vice president of legal and governmental affairs, said. “And we estimate that between the coalition of clubs who worked with us, we were able to register over 600 students.”
According to Peters, SGA also sent in almost 300 absentee ballots.
SGA’s efforts started with a Welcome Week voter registration for the College’s newest class, co-sponsored by the Bonner Center. A table with registration forms was set up as freshman signed up for their Community Engaged Learning requirement.
The early outreach proved successful. According to senior Michael Strom, alternate student trustee, an overwhelming 246 students were registered during Welcome Week.
In the following weeks, SGA ran a voter registration and absentee ballot drive for approximately one month.
“We used a number of different methods to help get people registered, including table sitting in (Brower Student Center) and attending meetings of large organizations on campus to get their members registered,” Peters said.
Peters also mentioned SGA’s communication with ambassadors and Residential Education and Housing as a way to reach out to more residents. Through the Inter-Greek Council, SGA members contacted numerous fraternities and sororities to ensure their members were registered.
Members of Women in Learning and Leadership (WILL) as well as Vox, Voices of Planned Parenthood also worked closely with SGA members for most of the voter registration campaign.
Kari Osmond, president of Vox, explained the voter registration drives were a big campaign agenda for Vox and Planned Parenthood.
“Every Tuesday and Thursday for the month of September, we canvassed the campus, hitting the dorms, outside of (Eickhoff Hall) and the Student Center to register people,” Osmond said.
Like SGA, Vox also handed out applications for absentee ballots.
“A majority of the students were already registered, so we gave out absentee ballots for the most part,” Osmond said.
In addition to the numerous drives, SGA also promoted voting with a viewing of the movie, “Holler Back: Not Voting in an American Town.” The documentary addressed why voting is important and why some people choose not to vote.
Peters also stressed that all the efforts to get students to vote were non-partisan. Volunteers were allowed to wear or say anything endorsing any candidate.
“This is why, in this case, we tried to keep our distance from the efforts of the College Republicans and College Democrats,” he said.
With the election over, most students at the College had the opportunity to vote if they chose to.
“We haven’t received any complaints of people not being registered or not
receiving an absentee ballot we sent in,” Peters said. “So, I think we did a good job at
getting out the paperwork for the students in a timely manner, and made
sure everything got to the right place.”