Students at the University of North Georgia are taking action to encourage fellow classmates across the university’s five campuses to vote in upcoming elections.
Mark Ginter, an UNG alumnus and graduate student, is leading the effort. He and Carly Redding, an associate professor of Sociology and Human Services at UNG, submitted grant application to the Students Learn Students Vote Coalition. The national coalition approved the grant in fall 2020.
Money from the grant has allowed Ginter and other students to form the Voice of the Emancipated (VOTE) club and sponsor events. Some projects that this club has hosted so far include voter registration campaigns in August and September and discussions on election issues in October.
Ginter said that he wants students to understand issues before they go to vote.
"Voting blindly can lead to some terrible outcomes," he said. "It is important to learn about who is running and what their stance is."
Members of the VOTE club have hosted several in-person and ZOOM events to further their cause. A forum on October 8 focused on the importance of local elections, election laws and their impact. A question-and-answer session on October 16 focused on answering questions about elections on November 3.
Another forum is planned for October 21 to discuss the Electoral College. Douglas Young, a political science professor at UNG, will lead the discussion.
In addition to forums and discussions, the VOTE club also hosted a T-shirt design contest. Tiffany Prater, an assistant professor of visual arts, said that the contest helped students in her graphic design class learn more about voter participation.
"From a graphic design standpoint, this contest enabled my students to research on how to increase student voter participation on campus using visual communication," she said. "On the other hand, as the students presented the designs, they shared stories on how the election has affected them personally. They also learned other ways for the student body and themselves to vote that they didn't realize existed."
According to the National Student of Learning, Voting and Engagement, 82% of eligible voters at UNG registered for the 2018 midterm elections. Of those, 55.3% cast their ballot to give UNG an overall voting rate of 45.4%. That is higher than the 39.1% average voting rate of all higher education institutions.