American Democracy Project helps students register to vote

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The polls in the presidential race and several Indiana state races have never been closer. This means the ability to vote has never been more important. IUSB’s American Democracy Project (ADP) wants to help.

If you missed your chance to register to vote on campus last week during their Constitution Day celebration, no worries: The ADP will be at multiple locations around campus between Sept. 26 and 29 to help you get registered.

Online and traditional paper-and-pen registrations are available. You can also register to vote by following the link on the Canvas login page through One.IU. The ADP will also be going into classrooms in effort to get students registered to vote.

“One of the reasons that we want to go into classrooms, even though we will have voter registration tables, is that we know that is the most effective way to get students registered,” said Dr. Elizabeth Bennion, director of IUSB’s American Democracy Project.

Bennion points to national research she has done with Temple University political science professor David Nickerson (formerly with Notre Dame) that shows students who get these in-classroom presentations about voter registration are more likely to show up on the voter roll and to vote.

“Even on campuses, where registration tables are available, having that captive audience and having someone else deliver your message in a forum for you makes a difference,” said Bennion. “About a third of those students actually did follow up with a vote solely based on being in that classroom. Hopefully, a lot of students are getting signed up through Canvas and we’ll have the tables, also. We want to reach as many students as possible.”

All IUSB students will be able to register to vote during this registration drive. The ADP uses the federal voter registration form to get students registered. All students need is a state-issued identification card or driver’s license and to be at least 18 years of age by Election Day (November 8 this year).

After you get registered to vote, who do you vote for? As far as the presidential race goes, you can figure that out for yourself by attending one or all of the ADP’s debate watch parties. The presidential debate watch parties are scheduled for Sept. 26, Oct. 9 and Oct. 19. The vice-presidential debate is scheduled for Oct. 4. All of the watch parties will be held in the Community Building of River Crossing Student Housing from 8:30 to 11 pm on those dates. Pizza, snacks and pop will be provided as well as camaraderie among student voters.

As of this printing, Bennion expects both Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, as well as their running mates Mike Pence and Tim Kaine, respectively, to be part of these debates. Minor party candidates such as Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are not expected to be part of these debates, as they are not polling at 15 percent or above, the threshold set by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

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