Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett visited MTSU Friday, Sept. 21, as part of a campaign to increase student voter registration before the Nov. 6 midterm election through a series of stops at colleges and universities across the state this month.
In conjunction with National Voter Registration Day on Sept. 25 and National Voter Registration Month all of September, Hargett launched a College Voter Registration Competition. He’s encouraging every college and university statewide to compete in registering students to vote and spreading awareness of the campaign on social media using the hashtag #GoVoteTN.
The MTSU Student Government Association and the campus chapter of the American Democracy Project partnered to host a voter registration table Friday near the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building.
Monica Haun, president of the MTSU chapter of the American Democracy Project and former executive vice president of the SGA, was among students working the registration table as several students stopped by to register, check their registration status or pick up one of the red Connection Point buttons.
“We’re hoping to be No. 1 for voter registration this year,” Haun said. “And we’re hoping to get everyone excited about the midterm elections this year.”
Three winning schools — a four-year public college/university, two-year community/junior college, and private college/university — will be selected based on the number of students registered, social media presence, and campus creativity in promoting the drive.
All will be publicly recognized by the secretary of state’s office following the state’s voter registration deadline on Oct. 9, according to a news release.
“My goal is to help make sure as many eligible Tennesseans as possible take part in our election process,” said Hargett, who was welcomed to campus by MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee.
“It is great to meet with the young men and women on our college campuses who are registering to vote for the first time. These are the future leaders of our state, and it’s exciting to see them engage in and being excited about the political process.”
In addition to ongoing on-campus registration events, Haun noted that Hargett’s office has released an app, GoVoteTN, that makes it easier to register as well as having online registration through the secretary of state website, https://sos.tn.gov, that may be more appealing to the millennial and Gen Z’ers than the tradition paper registration forms.
Students also can register and ensure their school receives credit by visiting https://sos.tn.gov/elections/edu, where they can also find their school-specific hashtag for social media. MTSU’s is #GoVoteTNMTSU.
Micaela Griffin, a sophomore in the MTSU College of Media and Entertainment and senator for the college, was handing out red Connection Point buttons to passing students Friday and asking if they were registered to vote — with several stopping at the tent to eventually do just that.
“We know that voter turnout in the state of Tennessee is fairly low and our job is to promote democracy on campus and off campus,” Griffin said, “so one way we try to do that is to host voter registration drives that are easily accessible to students and will hopefully increase voter turnout across the state.
“I think it’s great that we have high quality civic engagement on our campus.”
Haun reminded students to register before the Oct. 9 deadline for the November election. New voters can register during regular business hours through Tuesday, Oct. 9, at the following MTSU locations:
• American Democracy Project headquarters, Room 221, Paul W. Martin Honors Building.
• Albert Gore Research Center, Room 128, Todd Hall.
• Center for Educational Media, Room 101S, McWherter Learning Resources Center.
• John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies office, Room 238, Bragg Media and Entertainment Building.
• James E. Walker Library atrium.
Hargett’s next campus stops will be Sept. 26 at the University of Memphis-Lambuth campus and Lane College, both in Jackson, Tennessee.
— Jimmy Hart (firstname.lastname@example.org)