New initiatives increase campus voter turnout

Approximately 70 students turned out to vote on campus on Election Day, surprising campus officials and Board of Elections inspectors alike.

Helena Harbert, an elections inspector with Oswego County Board of Elections, was pleasantly surprised by the turnout. She said that a few years ago they were lucky if six students voted on campus.

Cara Levine, Student Association director of Civic Engagement, said she was very pleased with the turnout because of the number of students that voted on campus as well as the number of students that dropped off absentee ballots this year.

Nola Heidlebaugh, Civic Engagement coordinator, said that the higher turnout is due to early initiatives and continued commitment throughout the semester in getting students registered to vote.

"We started pushing registration early right from the beginning [of the semester] in the residence halls and with S.A.’s voter registration drive," Heidlebaugh said.

Heidlebaugh said Civic Engagement worked with the Board of Elections over the summer to try to increase the number of student voters. Voter FAQ’s were posted in residence halls and the art department’s teachers assistants created posters that were displayed around the campus. In the days leading up to the elections, Civic Engagement created a PowerPoint for professors to show students and encouraged professors to discuss voting in their classes. Civil Engagement staff members also worked to raise awareness with Constitution Week in mid-September and had voter registration tables set up throughout the semester. Heidlebaugh explained that the campus media organizations helped in making students more aware of the candidates and the election.

The election staff overall agreed that this year there was less confusion and that the process went smoother than previous years. However, there was confusion that came from the absentee ballot process. Harbert suggested that student’s register with their local campus addresses so that they do not miss the opportunity to vote in the future.

"Some got engaged and cared but, many others had no idea, some students didn’t even know," said Miriam Jimenez, a political science professor. Jimenez was very surprised by the turnout but is glad that students participated in voting.