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Voter registration efforts aim to increase student turnout, engagement

A nonpartisan campus initiative helps students register and learn about the electoral process.

Sept. 30, 2020
Contact: Kenny Gerling, 
gerlingk@missouri.edu

Bailey Martin

Bailey Martin

This year Bailey Martin will have her first chance to vote in a presidential election — and she can barely contain herself. “I am so excited,” she said. “This is one of the ways I can really voice my opinion.”

Martin is a sophomore majoring in constitutional democracy and history. She is also a fellow at the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy, president of the Associated Students of the University of Missouri and the leader of the Mizzou chapter of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge — a nonpartisan initiative at universities across the country to engage students in the electoral process.

As registration deadlines approach for the Nov. 3 election, the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge is running a series of voter registration drives on campus. The group also helps host voter education events, such as a question-and-answer session with Boone County Clerk Brianna Lennon.

Martin said that during just one drive on Sept. 22, they were able to register around 130 MU students to vote.

“The ALL IN Challenge is an opportunity for universities to increase and place an emphasis on community engagement for students,” she said. “We want to establish lifelong habits of active citizenship beyond their time at college.”

An election like no other

William T. Horner, a teaching professor and director of undergraduate studies for the Department of Political Science, serves as the faculty advisor for the ALL IN Challenge. He has worked with Martin to facilitate events and even became a notary public so he could certify absentee ballots, a requirement in Missouri.

Horner said the ALL IN Challenge addresses a common issue with voter participation. “Eighteen- to 22-year-olds traditionally don’t vote in very great numbers,” Horner said. “It doesn’t matter who you vote for or what party you vote for. It’s about getting a sense of civic engagement established.”

Horner said that with the difficulties caused by COVID-19, students need to be diligent and make sure they register and submit absentee ballots on time. He wants to make sure students know that in Missouri, you are able to request an absentee ballot if you have or are considered at risk for contracting or transmitting COVID-19. A full list of approved reasons to vote absentee is available on the Secretary of State’s website.

Make yourself heard

Though it might seem complicated to first-time voters, Horner said there are many resources available to help students navigate requirements. “The best way to register is to go to Vote.gov,” he said. “It’ll ask if you want to register to vote and for what state. It then routes you through the process. If you’re registering in Missouri, you can go to the Secretary of State’s website.”

The deadline to register for the next election is Oct. 7 in Missouri. If voting by mail, the ballot must be received — not merely postmarked — by Nov. 3. If voting absentee in Missouri, you must request a ballot from your county clerk’s office, and it must be signed in the presence of a notary before it is submitted.

Martin said efforts to register and inform student voters — such as the ALL IN Challenge — will hopefully encourage even more people to participate and feel heard. “We want to make sure that everyone knows that their voice matters,” she said.

For more information about the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, visit allinchallenge.org.

Helpful links

Vote.gov — Guides you through the voter registration process

Sos.mo.gov/elections/goVoteMissouri/register — Online voter registration for Missouri

Voting Q&A with Boone County Clerk Brianna Lennon

 

Election tips from William T. Horner

Key dates:

  • Oct. 7: Last day to register to vote in Missouri. All voter registration requests must be postmarked by this date.
  • Oct. 21: Deadline in Missouri to request an absentee ballot by mail. Absentee ballots can be requested now from your county clerk’s office.
  • Nov. 3: Election Day. All absentee ballots must be received by 7 p.m. If voting in Boone County, use this tool to find your polling location. Both the Boone County Government Center and Mizzou Arena will serve as central polling places for any registered Boone County voter.

Other tips:

  • All absentee and mail-in voting must be received by Nov. 3.
  • In Missouri, absentee ballots must be requested from your county clerk’s office and signed in front of a notary public who will then authorize the ballot before submission.
  • Notaries are available through the Mizzou Cashiers Office from 9 to 5 Mondays and Wednesdays in 325 Jesse Hall, Student Affairs on Fridays in 2202 MU Student Center and at the Boone County Clerk’s Office.
  • Students needing their ballot notarized may also reach Dr. Horner directly at hornerwt@missouri.edu.

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