This week marked the kick-off to an exciting project my PSCI 410: Campaigns and Elections class is doing. We titled it "UIndy Votes!" and it is our voting registration drive aimed at helping engage people in our community (campus and nearby neighborhood) in the political process.
Through the generous support of the Indiana Campus Compact and the Department of History and Political Science, our class is hosting voter registration drive tables in the Schwitzer student center (as well as before the LWV candidate forum and the IDC second gubernatorial debate), going door-to-door canvassing in the University Heights Neighborhood, and sharing our love and interest of democracy with the 5th and 6th graders at IPS 65, Raymond Brandes Elementary School. The students are as enthusiastic as I am and though we will be doing a lot in a short amount of time (voter registration deadline is October 11!), I really think it is going to be a fun and meaningful experience for everyone involved.
This week, we were trained on how to register voters and also learned about the insides of poll-working and the voting process (how the machines work, how ballots are counted, etc.) from the fantastic folks at the Marion County Board of Elections.
(Learning about recent races in Indiana and the Midwest in which a single vote determined the election outcome. Take that, Downs and Riker and Orderstook!)
They visited our class and taught us about what their office does and how we can help ensure those who want to vote are registered and able to do so.
(Mr. Hollis explaining the voting technology--a personal highlight for me because I just love that stuff.)
We also participated in a mock election that generated some very interesting results (Clinton and Johnson tied for president and Trump trailed them by only a single vote).
(Filling out the ballots, which were mock versions including some "fun" questions but were regulation size and format, closely resembling the real ballot students will complete in November.)
(Casting our ballots in the official voting machine and, yes, I was geeking out.)
(A picture of the ballots. To test out the "write-in" option, I selected Coach Saban for the chief executive. While he is a fantastic football coach, he will not be getting my vote for President in the real election but I would certainly vote for him in anything football-related, the man is a tactical and strategic genius.)
Yesterday, the t-shirts we ordered arrived! They were designed by a student and we had both a primary and general election to vote on the winning design (really, it was more of a run-off since two of the nine design submissions dominated in a near-tie of votes, but regardless, after two round of elections, the winning design was selected). I think they are very clever and love that with the students will be easily identifiable when we are working at different events or canvassing ("Oh, you want to register? Yes, then go see that student in the white shirt over there.")
With our knowledge about how to register voters, our enthusiasm for the upcoming elections, and our materials all organized and ready to go, we are ready to begin "UIndy Votes!" next week!