by Whitney Tyler, Wright State University student and Campus Vote Project Democracy Fellow
Wright State University has had a troubled past with voter engagement, but that doesn’t mean the students, professors and administrators are giving up. Wright State had its first big push surrounding the 2016 presidential election. We were even chosen to host the first presidential debate! Unfortunately, the debate fell through and so did voter engagement. But Wright State is making a comeback! The groundwork for the 2018 midterm elections through the campus-wide voter registration, voter information engagement, and get out the vote efforts has already started with more activities to come.
Our goals have been humongous in planning for this election and we’re finally able to implement them. The first stop in our plan was registering WSU students to vote. We started off with a registration table at the Campus Fall Festival where we registered over 100 students and have since celebrated Constitution Day with a movie week. Every day between September 17th and 22nd we played a movie related to the Constitution. We had a general discussion about the Constitution before every screening and a discussion about the movie and one amendment after the screening.
National Voter Registration Day is our big event of registration season where we will are register students with the help campus clubs and the League of Women Voters at registration stations all day, campus wide. At our registration stations, we will be handing out silly putty and donuts to make sure WSU students “doughnut” forget to register and know voting isn’t silly. We will also be hosting another movie night.
Once registration wraps up on October 9th, we will be focusing on information distribution. We want to make sure students are receiving enough of the best information possible about what and who is going to be on their ballot. We are going to be handing out and displaying nonpartisan voting guides as well as literature from races close to campus and the gubernatorial race. We also want to make sure our students are knowledgeable about how to vote and will be advertising and handing out sample ballots along with information on options to vote absentee, early and on Election Day.
Not only are we giving students information they need to develop informed votes, but we are also helping facilitate discussions. We are in the process of partnering with our student run, on-campus café and are hoping to host weekly political chats for students to come in, have some coffee and snacks, and work through their thoughts on the election. The chats will have a weekly topic which coincides with our weekly forums. Our forums will work similarly to the chats, but we will distribute nonpartisan issue guides beforehand and facilitate a deliberate discuss about a specific issue.
Lastly, we are eagerly anticipating November 6th when we will host our Party at the Polls with music, food, and entertainment to remind students to go out and vote and show that voting is important, rewarding, and fun. Transportation to the polls will also be provided for students on campus.
Wright State is extremely excited to increase voter engagement and we hope this is only the beginning in creating politically active students and alumni.