In its original Greek definition, the word politics means “to influence the affairs of the city.” The 2020 election is less than a month away. Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates are happening every week, and social media seems to be filled with political content. One of the simplest ways we can influence the affairs of our cities, and our nation, is by exercising the democratic right to vote.
Concordia recently introduced the “Get Out the Vote” initiative. Hannah Wilson, the civic engagement advocate for SGA explained what this initiative hopes to accomplish.
“We’re in a really important election year,” said Wilson. “It is a unique situation trying to get students out to vote while maintaining social distancing rules.”
SGA has created “voter plans” for students to plan how they will be civically engaged, said Wilson. These are available for all students, even those not voting. Hannah said that Concordia is competing with Minnesota State University in Moorhead, North Dakota State University and North Dakota State College of Sciences to see which school can have the highest proportion of their student body fill out a voter plan. Every Concordia student that completes a voter plan will be entered into a raffle and may receive a prize in the CPO box.
“Civic engagement is much more than a vote. It’s really being involved in your community and figuring out how everyone can impact the people around them in a positive way” said Wilson.
A voting guide for students at Concordia with more detailed information can be found on Cobbernet by searching ‘cobber voting guide.’
Concordia is home to many political advocacy groups, including Campus Democrats, Young Democratic Socialists of America and Young Americans for Freedom.
Campus Democrats is an organization that offers a space for liberal students to gather and enjoy being around like-minded people, said Micayla Bitz, co-president of Campus Democrats. Bitz offered her insight into why it is important for college students to get out and vote.
“I think college students are a demographic that don’t traditionally vote, and they definitely have the power to sway an election one way or another,” said Bitz.
YDSA serves to provide the campus with a discussion space for leftist issues, said their co-chair, Alexander Hernandez. He explained that we should care about local elections just as much as the presidential race, if not more.
“A lot of the decisions that directly impact you fly under the radar because of our focus on the national level,” said Hernandez. “The national level is absolutely important, but so is the local level.”
YAF works to expose college students to more conservative-leaning ideals said Dreyton Rud, the president of the organization. Rud believes that honest dialogue is one of the most important facets of civic engagement.
“A big part of civic engagement is knowing how to interact with people who have different opinions from you,” said Rud.
This year, Concordia will have a polling location on campus for students to vote. Wilson explained that the city of Moorhead needs students to step up to keep this polling location for future elections.
“Typically older people are the ones that work at the election sites. But during COVID it is much more dangerous for them,” said Wilson.
Wilson said that being an election judge is a great way for people to see the voting process up close and personal. The only requirement for this job is being registered to vote in MN. The election judge position pays $10 an hour. Wilson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on this opportunity.
Across campus and the ideological spectrum, the message is clear.
“At the end of the day, we want everyone to vote. It is really important, and we want everyone to recognize its importance” said Bitz.
“It’s a basic responsibility of being a citizen in the United States,” said Hernandez.
“Speak up and make sure your opinions are heard. Otherwise, you can’t be represented” said Rud.
“Students really need to get involved, and this is the year to do it,” said Wilson.
The voting guide for Concordia students can be found at: https://cobbernet.cord.edu/directories/offices-services/student-engagement/2020-elections/
The signup form to be an election judge at Concordia can be found at: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc2QgtOQ-WfAwSh8rZYSY2Dg0ySl1JJgmxTNUWWA5efG6iq1w/viewform