A coalition of nearly 40 student groups and academic units at UT is launching a voter registration campaign on campus—dubbed #VolsVote—in hopes of encouraging more students to participate in the upcoming midterm elections.
The campaign will include classroom registrations throughout September and a series of events, lectures and debates, including a Senate debate scheduled for October 10 at UT’s Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy. Both former Gov. Phil Bredesen, the Democratic nominee, and Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the Republican nominee, have confirmed their participation in the debate.
Other events include a lecture with Ambassador Ira Shapiro and a screening of the documentary “One Vote” with director Christine Doeg.
“We’ve got a lot of different groups with different political affiliations involved, because we can all agree that voting is—and will always be—one of the pillars of our democracy,” said Emma Heins, chair of the Issues Committee of the Campus Events Board.
Tennessee ranks last in the country in voter turnout and No. 40 in voter registration, according to a Pew Charitable Trust analysis of 2014 midterm election data. The last day to register to vote is Oct. 9. Election day is Nov. 6.
The League of Women Voters will train volunteers interested in nonpartisan voter registration efforts at 5 p.m. Tuesday, September 4, at the Baker Center. The training will include explanations of mail-in and online registration and how to answer commonly asked questions.
To participate in classroom registrations, faculty and lecturers can request packets from the Baker Center to share with students. The packets include registration forms and additional information. Faculty can also request a trained volunteer to visit their class to discuss voter registration.
The campaign includes several public events:
- Sept. 4: Voter Registration Training with the League of Women Voters, 5-6 p.m. in the Baker Center’s Toyota Auditorium. RSVP requested.
- Sept. 20: “How Civility Works” with author Keith Bybee of Syracuse University’s Maxwell School, 5 p.m. in the Baker Center’s Toyota Auditorium.
- Sept. 25: National Voter Registration Day: Screening of “One Vote” documentary with director Christine Doeg and the League of Women Voters, 7 p.m. in Cox Auditorium, Alumni Memorial Building.
- Oct. 10: Senate Debate with Rep. Marsha Blackburn and former Gov. Phil Bredesen, 8 p.m.in the Baker Center’s Toyota Auditorium, broadcast locally on WATE Channel 6 and statewide by Nexstar Media Group Inc.
- Oct. 30: Baker Center 10th anniversary celebration, “Broken: Can the Senate Save Itself and the Country?” with Ambassador Ira Shapiro, 5 p.m. in the Baker Center’s Toyota Auditorium.
- Nov. 6: Election Day. The Baker Center is a polling location for voters in precinct 10S/W.
More information on these and other upcoming events is available on the Baker Center website.
Partners involved in the #VolsVote campaign are the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, the Baker Ambassadors, the Black Cultural Programming Committee, the Black Student Union, the Campus Events Board, the Center for Student Engagement, CivicTN, College Democrats, the Haslam College of Business, College Republicans, The Daily Beacon, the Department of Political Science, First-Year Studies, the Latin American Student Organization, the Knox County Chapter of the League of Women Voters, Mock Trial, Model United Nations, NAACP, the National Black Law Student Association, the UT Knoxville Chapter of National Pan-Hellenic Council, Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity, Platypus Affiliated Society and the Pride Center.
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