On-campus voter registration seeks increased student presence in election

Andrea Pouso Morales stops by the voting registration booth in the SUB. The booth was hosted by Baylor University’s Office of Community Engagement and Service. MJ Routh | Multimedia Journalist

By Harry Rowe | Staff Writer

Students took an opportunity to enact their civic duty Tuesday afternoon as they signed up to register to vote and took time to learn more about the voting process.

The event took place on the first floor of the Bill Daniel Student Center from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and was part of National Voter Registration Day, an organized effort to increase citizen awareness for upcoming elections. The League of Women Voters, a national non-partisan group that originated during the Women’s Suffrage Movement, held the event.

“We know very few of [Baylor students] are from McLennan county, so a significant portion of students are navigating where and when to vote,” said Dr. Rebecca Flavin, senior lecturer of political science at Baylor. “It’s different for so many [students], so we’re hoping to break down some barriers and give you guys information about that.”

Some students couldn’t wait for the table to open. Flavin, who arrived to set up around 10:30 a.m., was surprised to find students already lined up and waiting.

“We were setting it up, and a couple students helped me to put it all together.” Flavin said.

The table set up had everything from National Registration Day buttons and stickers to papers to physically register to vote. Different candies lined the surface in between rows of papers.

Dr. Ivy Hamerly, senior lecturer of political science and director of international studies, as well as president for Waco’s League of Women Voters, said the event has been helpful to registered and non-registered students.

“Probably about half of the people that have come by the table have registered to vote, and the other half have had questions about what kind of voter identification they need,” Hamerly said. “They’ve asked how to vote by mail if you’re registered in another state or county, so we’ve been supplying lots of information and candy.”

According to Hamerly, students living out of state or county can find information about voting through Voter411.org, a website designed by the League of Women Voters to give information about voting as well as the candidates. She said the League of Women Voterstakes pride in its non-partisan roots while still getting important information to the voters.

“League of Women Voters was founded 98 years ago, just before women got the right to vote. They knew there were going to be a bunch of new voters who didn’t know what the rules were and their various voting locations,” Hamerly said. “We’ve always been nonpartisan. We’ve never supported or opposed any candidate or party. What we focus on is educating voters so they have the information they need so they can make their own choice about who to support.”

Flavin said she was able to turn her passion for politics into a career. She wants students to realize their vote really does matter, and regardless of how insignificant it may seem, it’s one thing everybody only gets one of.

“With respect to campaign finance, lots of people can donate money and have an outsized impact on information and ads and things like that, but when it comes down to it, everyone gets just one vote,” Flavin said. “I really want people to exercise [their right to] vote; I don’t care who they vote for, and I don’t care what their party is as long as they vote.”