The current political climate across the country is leaving many people wondering what they can do to make a difference. ETSU Votes aims to show students across campus that they can do simple things to make a difference.
“ETSU Votes is our campus wide initiative to really increase voter engagement among our college students,” Joy Fulkerson, director of Leadership and Civic Engagement, said.
SoCon Votes started in 2016, thanks to a study done by student Joey Wozniak at Mercer University, according to Fulkerson.
“He suggested what would it look like if we develop an athletic style like competition to increase voter engagement,” Fulkerson said. “It started in the Southern Conference. It just became this athletic style competition. We also were required to participate in a national study that helps us assess what our voter participation is.”
ETSU won “Most Improved Student Voter Participation” in SoCon Votes with a 9.5 percent increase in student voter participation from 2012 to 2016.
Fulkerson said that the SoCon Votes competition allowed ETSU to start the groundwork for continuing to encourage voter participation.
“We put together a team of faculty, staff and students to sort of talk about voting on campus,” Fulkerson said.
Fulkerson said that this year ETSU Votes has been focused on letting students know how they can register to vote.
“We were at orientation,” Fulkerson said. “We were at Preview, we were a part of Welcome Week activities.”
Getting people to register for the upcoming midterm elections has been a big goal for ETSU Votes, but they won’t stop after the deadline to register has passed.
“Our efforts will be turned to how to help educate people about how to get out to vote,” Fulkerson said. “And how to get educated on the issues.”
Fulkerson said that students across campus who are looking to make a change can do so by registering to vote.
“Many decisions are made by elected officials,” Fulkerson said. “So if you are really interested in ensuring that your voice is being heard, then you register to vote, and you vote for the officials that are going to best match your ideals.”
In today’s political climate, if a person wants things to change, registering to vote is one way to make sure their voice is heard.
“We want to encourage our students to vote,” Fulkerson said. “It’s a right that we have, and not everyone has it … It can really make a big difference.”