Annie Deitz, Campus Carrier deputy news editor
Election Day is Nov. 5. Many states and municipalities will be holding elections for different seats. Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi have gubernatorial elections. Three special elections to the U.S. House of Representatives will be held in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. State legislative, mayoral, and ballot initiatives will also be voted upon in nearly every state.
As Election Day approaches, political clubs and organizations on campus are encouraging voter registration and turnout. The Berry College Republicans and Young Democrats have spent time this semester on voter registration within their own clubs and the Berry community. According to senior Benjamin D. Walker, president of the College Republicans, the two groups hosted a table for National Voter Registration Day on Sept. 24 and were able to register nearly 50 people to vote.
“It was the first time we’ve actually done a bipartisan effort,” Walker said. “In years past it’s been through SAO, but this time we did a special emphasis on it being completely bipartisan. The Young Dems took the morning shift, we took the afternoon shift. None of us wore anything depicting who we were or anything. I think that it gets a whole lot more people registered if you aren’t under a partisan mask.”
Both organizations are in the process of planning future voter registration events as well. As Walker said, the Floyd County Republican Party asked the Berry College Republicans (BCR) to host registration events in the Rome community. According to senior Sarah Pierce, president of the Young Democrats, her organization is also discussing other ways to get involved with voter registration outside of Berry.
“We were thinking about doing something at Rome High School, helping seniors to register to vote,” Pierce said. “It could end up being really complicated, but it would be another good opportunity, and another potential way to partner with the College Republicans.”
College students, and other people living outside of their district, may not always be able to go to their voting precinct on Election Day. Different states have different structures in place for those in that situation. According to Walker, researching the voting laws and schedules of your state well in advance of Election Day is critical to ensuring your vote is heard. Despite the fact that there is still a month before Election Day, state laws are all different, and people should resaerch voting processes before it becomes too late.
“You don’t want to wait until the last minute because if you wait until the last minute you might not get the opportunity to vote,” Walker said. “Rules, they do vary per state. They have the tendency to vary, even in nearby states like Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina, because of simple transactional things. Definitely take a look at it and make sure your voice is heard because you don’t want to miss out.”
With fall break approaching, both Walker and Pierce suggested students invest some of their free time into that research. As Pierce explained, having time away from school provides students an opportunity to catch up on other tasks, and voting should be one of them.
“I think sometimes college life catches up with you and it can be really difficult to find a time to deal with other administrative tasks that come with coming into adulthood,” Pierce said. “Fall break is a great time to catch up on those tasks, to take a minute and think about what you need to do for your life and your future. Voting should be one of the most important tasks.”
As Walker explained, despite the fact that 2019 is not a presidential election year, and few national elections are occuring, voting in local elections is important.
“Your neighbors know what you need more than someone in Washington,” Walker said. “I would say local elections are just as crucial if not more important than presidential and other national elections. You need to vote in everything you can locally because they are really in control over what happens in your state.”
Furthermore, as Pierce described, individuals voices are vital to contributing to successful and healthy communities.
“If you are impacted by your community, or care about those that are impacted in your community, it’s important to make sure your opinion is heard,” Pierce said. “Otherwise we don’t live in a democracy.”