by LIZZIE DEAL
Campus has been abuzz the past few weeks as students of various political affiliations registered to vote. Organizations such as the Iowa Caucus Project, Drake Democrats and College Republicans have been tabling to support the cause.
On Sept. 24, National Voter Registration Day, students were able to register to vote at a different locations sprinkled around campus. The Iowa Caucus Project had a table set up in Helmick Commons, complete with a bean poll, free food, swag, and visits from Griff and Professor Rachel Paine Caufield’s dog. Anyone who stopped by the table was invited to place a bean into the assortment of mason jars laid out representing the major candidates of both parties. In this Bulldog Bean Poll, Elizabeth Warren came in first, followed by Pete Buttigieg.
“We were just trying to think of ways that would attract students to tables,” Iowa Caucus Project member Samantha Bayne said. “Drake can sometimes be over-programed, so [we thought of] ways that would uniquely invite people. While they were stopping, we were able to jump in with “Hey, can you register to vote?” and that was a very effective way to get students really interested in the process, and it helped that Griff’s owner was posting on social media about how to register to vote and tagging Iowa Caucus Project. It was a really great way to get more engagement with the event.”
Students who headed to Hubbell during the day were able to register at the Drake Democrats table. Hannah McCoy, Drake Democrats President, said she was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who had already registered to vote. Through their tabling, McCoy wanted to reach out and encourage young people to get involved in politics because of the power their voices carry, and to set good habits for future engagement.
“I think it’s incredibly important for Drake students to get involved in politics because of the power behind the youth voice,” McCoy said. “I don’t think a lot of students realize how much change they’re able to make on college campuses, and especially in the current political climate, it’s really good for students to get involved at a young age because politics play such a big role in everybody’s lives. Getting students involved early on in the caucus season is important to enforce a lifelong political civic engagement duty that they have to their country. It’s really good for students to get involved just so they’re knowledgeable about what’s going on in the country and who’s going to be potentially leading the country when they’re older.”
For those who wandered past Helmick Commons in the late afternoon, Drake College Republicans were there to provide assistance and help register people to vote. Because this year’s caucus is Democratic, they aimed to remind students who lean to the right that there is still an outlet for their voices to be heard.
“I think [voter registration is] important, especially in Iowa, because the state could really go either way when it comes to elections,” College Republicans Vice President Sam Bennett said. “As young people, you should realize your right to have your opinion heard, and voting is the best way to do it. A misconception is that all young people are Democrats, and they’re not. There are young people like myself that are Republican, and it’s good to let people on the campus know that we have all political opinions on Drake’s campus and that even though it is a Democratic caucus year, it’s still important for Republicans to get their opinion out there as well.”
The event also offered the opportunity for out-of-state students who are registered to vote in their home state to change their registration over to Iowa. This is important because students not registered in Iowa will not be eligible to participate in the Iowa Caucuses.
“That’s part of the reason why we have these voter registration drives and things like that here,” Ian Klein, a member of the Iowa Caucus Project, said. “If college students want to switch their registration to Iowa, they can do so and then be eligible to participate in the process here.”
Regardless of your political affiliation or lack thereof, these students all maintained the idea that participation in the government via voting is an essential part of life, especially here at Drake where running into candidates is unavoidable.
“Even if you’re not a politics student, you still get the opportunity to engage with candidates on a deeply personal level and they’re invested in you, solely because you’re a student at Drake University,” Iowa Caucus Project’s Social Media Manager Avery Van Den Berg said. “I think that’s such a unique opportunity that doesn’t happen anywhere else in the country. Even if you don’t care about politics, even if you’re not a politics student, if you don’t know everything that there is to know about 2020, go to the events and meet them because they want to meet you. It’s so, so easy. It’s almost impossible to avoid, so you might as well just get out and get involved in the process.”