Wildcats Vote works to encourage student civic engagement

Wildcats Vote is a student organization hoping in crease civic engagement among students. (File photo | Collegian Media Group)

Election day is coming and some students are taking the initiative to register their peers to vote and educate the public on why it’s important.

Hayley Spellman, senior in political science and communication studies, founded Wildcats Vote to involve her fellow students in their community and encourage them voice their opinion through the ballot. Spellman founded Wildcats Vote after being inspired by her involvement in the Student Governing Association.

“Last year, I served as the Government Relations committee chair for SGA, and I kinda started having the conversations about voter registration and civic engagement on campus,” Spellman said.

Wildcats Vote tries to reach young people directly by various activities on campus. Last week the organization held a fundraiser to get as many students registered to vote before the Oct. 15 voter registration deadline.

“We had over 40 volunteers manning the table, and we got about 100 to 130 students registered to vote,” Spellman said.

Wildcats Vote is using unique ways to get students registered to vote. One of the flyers had a QR code that took students straight to the ksvotes.org website.

“People could take a picture of the flyer through Snapchat or their camera, and within minutes they are registered to vote,” Spellman said.

This is the primary website for voter registration for students from the state of Kansas.

Registering people to vote is only half of the battle, Spellman said.

“In the city of Manhattan, for people between the ages of 18 and 24, roughly 5,100 people were registered to vote, and of that 5,100 only 228 people voted in 2017,” she said.

Young people also have to show up to the polls, Spellman said.

“These numbers don’t reflect well on the school, with local elections impacting everyday life from taxes to what roads are fixed, people need to have more interest in their community,” Alex Orellana, a senior in engineering, said.

Wildcats Vote set a goal to get 500 K-State students to vote in the upcoming elections. This number would double the total number of students who voted in 2017, and Wildcats Vote hopes to raise the number of students voting every year.