Several Drake students voted early at the Knapp Center on Oct. 19, the first day of Iowa’s in-person absentee voting period, after student organizations petitioned to bring a satellite polling location to campus.
Drake needed at least 100 students to sign a petition to renew the Knapp Center as a satellite polling place for the 2022 elections, according to Drake Democrats President Ben Mowat.
“Drake Democrats [were] able to get over 100 [signatures]… and combined with the staff effort and the College Republicans’ effort, we were able to have a total of over 170 signatures,” Mowat said.
Mowat said securing an on-campus voting location was especially important this year because of the new voting restrictions passed in Iowa last year, which shortened both the time period for early voting and the voting hours on Election Day.
“It is harder than ever to vote, and that prevents students from having their voice heard,” Mowat said.
According to Chief Student Affairs Officer Jerry Parker, the Polk county auditor reported 700 total absentee votes were submitted on the first day of early in-person voting, with an additional 74 votes coming from the Knapp Center location.
Mowat said he thinks some of those 74 people would not have voted at all if the Knapp Center location had not been an option.
“Especially with transportation issues for students, setting up an in-person voting site… made voting significantly easier for students who might otherwise be unable to vote,” Mowat said. “Getting [students] to vote takes more than just a satellite voting location, but it still plays an important role.”
First-time voter Caroline Kansa, a sophomore BCMB major, also thought students were more likely to fit voting into their schedules if they had an opportunity to vote on campus.
“I know on Nov. 8 I have a lot of classes all day, so I didn’t know how I was gonna make it out to a voting location,” Kansa said. “This location allowed me to vote early.”
Senior Melanie Sadecki, a biology and political science double-major said she has voted at the Knapp Center all four years of her time at Drake. She feels Drake’s yearly on-campus polling place has made it easier for her to participate in democracy and fulfill her civic duty.
Additionally, Sadecki said she thinks having a voting site on campus is about more than just increasing accessibility to voting— it’s also about increasing visibility.
“I think visibility is a big thing with college students like they need to know that their peers are out voting,” Sadecki said. “When it’s a lot more visible, you’re just more likely to go out and do it.”
Sadecki said she hopes all students who didn’t vote at the Knapp Center will find a way to vote before or on Election Day Nov. 8.
“It’s hard to complain about the government if you’re not trying to take an active part in it,” she said.
Kansa shared a similar sentiment, saying she came out to vote because she felt it was her American duty to do so.
“Doing our duty to our country is one of the most important ways we can serve, and voting is the easiest way to do that,” Kansa said.
Kansa especially encouraged other first-time voters like herself to take the plunge and vote. Although she found it daunting to learn about all the candidates when she’d never voted before, she said there are tons of online resources that gave her plenty of credible information.
“Also, voting itself was super easy,” Kansasaid. “It took no time at all.”
For more information on where and how to vote this Election Day, visit the Times-Delphic’s complete guide to voting in Iowa.