With the assistance of the Weber State University Student Association, Wildcats on campus celebrated the first-ever National Voter Registration Day. WSUSA members could be seen
encouraging students to sign up to vote at various booths and tables set up around campus.
Although WSUSA has been pushing for voter registration all month, Tuesday was the major day to urge students to register. A total of 652 WSU students registered to vote on Tuesday, which is almost double the amount of students who have registered since the beginning of September.
College students are more likely to vote than other 18-25-year-olds, who also belong to the smallest represented demographic of registered voters. Gary Johnson, a political science professor who teaches constitutional law and public policy, said he believes young people in America are disadvantaged in many ways by what politicians pay attention to. He said he believes that voting now and voting locally is more important than ever for young Americans.
“Voting is an absolute necessity for any group in our society to have a voice in public policy,” Johnson said. “But for this generation, it is even more critical than it’s ever been before that you need to have a voice and an understanding.”
Signs advertising an entry to win a free iPad were placed by the booths in an attempt to entice students to register. The booths around campus also featured music and free stickers. Leadership vice president Mandie Barnes and Government Relations chair Chase Reynolds worked together with WSUSA to bring National Voter Registration Day to the WSU campus.
“We’re just trying to reach out to every student,” Barnes said.
Barnes said she was pleased with the registration results, and believes continued voter outreach is important.
“I think it would mean that we have the most informed campus, or we have the most engaged campus interested in getting their voice heard, who is interested in making a change.”
Although the major push for voter registration by WSUSA is relevant to the presidential election this coming November, Reynolds said the registration forms are good for local elections as well.
“It’s really important to see how easy it is to be active and participate in these things, and then see the results of the things that you stood for and supported,” Reynolds said. “The growth that we’ve seen in Ogden in the last 10 years is due majorly in part of the work that was done by our local leadership.”
According to Johnson, voting locally is just as important, if not more important, than the presidential election. He said WSU students in particular are interested and have a very strong value commitment and organizational capacity to encourage students to vote and make it easy for them.
“Who you vote for governor and who you vote for state legislation has a direct impact on your tuition, the quality of education you receive here,” said Johnson, in regard to Utah higher education. “Economic development issues in the state are very important.”
Students can sign up to become poll workers in the political science department, and the department also keeps guides to voting in Utah.
As for the contest, WSU is ahead in online pledges. Two years ago, WSU won the Elections Campus Cup with around 1,700 points, according to Reynolds. The goal is to beat the old winning score.
The entire process of registering takes less than two minutes, and WSUSA handles all the paperwork for the convenience of students.
“The idea is just getting people more involved, getting people more educated on the whole process of voter registration,” Reynolds said. “It really is simple.”
Students can visit www.nationalvoterregistrationday.org/rsvp for more information.