Despite the constant flow of political news, campaigns to raise voter registration awareness and ease of registering to vote college age students are still the largest range of people unregistered to vote. Zack McCutcheon and Andrew Sypher are hoping to change just that.
Sypher, a political science and public policy/public service junior and McCutcheon, public policy/public service and Arabic minor junior recently attended Harvard’s Institute of Politics’ National Campaign Conference to learn how other colleges are spreading voter registration awareness.
“The whole idea of the coalition is to increase civic engagement and voter awareness among college age voters,” Sypher says.
They received the opportunity to attend the conference due to their scholarship status. McCutcheon is an Andrew Goodman student ambassador Sypher is a Spirit of Service scholar.
The conference invites two students from 24 colleges to discuss certain political issues. McCutcheon and Sypher chose to focus on voter registration at Arizona State University. Students from each college also create their own proposal to present at the conference.
Since ASU is one of the largest student universities it becomes easy for problems to arise throughout the voter registration process. A large number of students are out-of-state and run into questions regarding their participation in voting in Arizona.
“Just because they’re not registered to vote here doesn’t mean they shouldn’t participate in the community & political process here because no matter where they are they are making a difference,” Sypher says.
Along with addressing these types of problems, the two ambassadors hope to raise awareness about the importance of taking part in the political community. ASU has multiple student organizations dedicated to certain political issues and they hope to find a way to promote such organizations while also bringing together each organization to interact with one another.
“Civic engagement does not just involve voting or voter registration,” McCutcheon says. “If someone wants to get involved in a community organization that is civic engagement.”
Adviser Chris Ammon attended many of the sessions along with the students and brought up that not only is voter registration awareness important, but voter education is as well.
“When it comes to voter registration people need to be register, but more importantly if they’re registered they need to vote and have an opinion,” Ammon says.
During the convention McCutcheon and Sypher attended various panels and presentations where they got the opportunity to hear from other students about what programs did and did not work. The conference promoted exchanging ideas between students who all had a wide range of political views.
McCutcheon and Sypher also identify with opposing political parties and saw the importance in being able to effectively work and communicate with students who may not have the same views as their own.
“It shows the university’s commitment to really increase participation no matter what party affiliation you have,” Sypher says. “That’s why we’re trying to unite all the student groups because in the end we need people to be involved, whether or not they have opposing views, that’s what makes the democracy healthy.”
After spending a weekend among a group of politically engaged students, congressmen and women and voter awareness speakers the two were determined to set their plans into motion as soon as the touched base in Tempe.
McCutcheon and Sypher hope to utilize TurboVote, a program that helps colleges promote voter registration through various technological outlets. They have put in motion their plan of installing a TurboVote link on the ASU dashboard, giving students easy access to it.
Until their major plan can be fully implemented both students aim to continue seeking innovate methods to promoting voter registration awareness.