Hayley Spellman, chair of the governmental relations committee, strives to increase student voting at Kansas State.
Spellman, senior in political science and communication studies, is originally from Emporia and enrolled at K-State to study mechanical and nuclear engineering. Her interests in science and engineering were quickly overshadowed by her interest in politics, which she said were ingrained into her mind by her father.
“Growing up, my dad and I would have conversations in the morning,” Spellman said. “When we were making breakfast we would sit down, turn on the TV and talk politics over a cup of coffee.”
Through Student Governing Association and the Center for Student Involvement, Spellman has played an active role in several activities aimed at promoting student voting and said she intends to continue this work in the future.
In September, Spellman was one of the leading students planning the National Voter Registration Day drive that had eight booths across campus. At the end of the day, the drive registered more than 120 students to vote in Riley County with countless others registering for advanced ballots by mail.
Spellman said this event allowed students to meet face-to-face with other students involved in politics to get an idea of what they would be voting for on Election Day.
“I talked to so many students on National Voter Registration Day that I lost my voice,” Spellman said.
Ryan Kelly, junior in communication studies, has worked with Spellman on several projects since she was selected to be the governmental relations committee chair.
“Seeing all the work that Hayley has done with not only National Voter Registration Day, but also mobilizing the vote with things like ‘Party at the Polls — I couldn’t be more excited that Hayley is the one that we chose for that role,” Kelly said.
Spellman was also a key planner in SGA’s first ever Party At The Polls, which ran from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the KSU Foundation on Election Day.
In the past, Spellman said, a lot of students were “uninformed” when it came to the names on the ballots.
“In 2016, about three-quarters of students were registered to vote, though only about half of those students actually voted on Election Day,” Spellman said.
Spellman said that the national percentage of students who voted in the 2016 presidential election was 50.5 percent. K-State was below the average with just over 45 percent of students casting a ballot.
Spellman said she hopes to see K-State supersede the national average in upcoming elections.