While there is no shortage of studies and think-pieces explaining why young adults don’t vote in high percentages, don’t tell Nicki Whitehead it’s because they don’t care.
“We do care,” says the Missouri Southern junior political science major. “But there are barriers that can get in the way of voting.”
The Political Science Association, the student organization for which Whitehead serves as president, will pair with the International & Political Affairs program to host three voter registration events on campus in the coming weeks.
“For college students who are going to school but live out of town, they don’t always have time to drive home to go to their polling place,” says Whitehead. “A lot of states have very confusing Secretary of State websites (that provide voting information).
“We’ll have sheets for all of the surrounding states that explains how voting works. We’ll also have paper registration forms available, walk through the process for students who want to register online, and information on how to find your polling place or vote by mail.”
Events are planned for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17, outside Phelps Theater in BSC; from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22, in front of Spiva Library on the Oval; and from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 30, in Webster Hall.
Dr. Nicole Shoaf, assistant professor of political science and adviser to the PSA club, says they will have tablets on hand to aid the online registration process.
“You can use the touch screen and sign with the stylus and just click ‘submit,’” she says. “It can take two minutes to get registered to vote in Missouri. With the paper application, the key is to make sure it is mailed to the appropriate election authority.”
Shoaf says she’s seeing an increased interest and enthusiasm about the upcoming election among her students.
“The students I’ve been working with seem much more plugged in to what’s going on in Washington, D.C.,” she says. “That’s in part due to the president tweeting his messaging directly to the country, and the sheer fact that because of the pandemic people are paying more attention to state and local government than they have in past years.”