Democracy is a word associated with freedom and fighting for the right to use your voice on any matter. There are many ways you can practice democracy; however, the most prominent is through voting.
For Nebraska students, it’s equally important to understand how crucial it is to vote. In November, there will be a midterm election that will have all 435 seats of the U.S. House of Representatives, 35 of the 100 seats of the U.S. Senate, several Nebraska Legislature seats, and the governorship up for grabs.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has a strong tradition of turning out the vote. In 2020, the university saw a 92 percent voter registration rate and a 74 percent turnout rate – encouraging numbers that are consistently high on campus, according to Assistant Director of Community Engagement Andrew Brown. The school ranked No. 1 in the Big Ten in voter registration and fifth in voter turnout.
Brown said the voting process is simple and accessible for any student over 18. Every qualified student can get registered for the Nov. 8, 2022, midterms – and then take advantage of events on campus to learn as much as they can about elections and this year’s issues.
The first opportunities this election season begin today [Sept. 20]. From 11 am to 1 p.m., students can visit the Husker Vote Coalition booth on Nebraska Union Plaza to register, check their registration status, sign up for vote-by-mail, and learn about their polling place for the general election. East Campus students can do the same at the Nebraska East Union cafeteria from 4 to 6 pm.
Then, they can get informed at a Get Out The Vote town hall-style discussion at 7 pm on Sept. 22 at the Nebraska Union. The forum, along with two additional town halls at the university before Election Day (Oct. 20 and Nov. 2, respectively), is co-partnered with Civic Nebraska.
“For students voting, make sure to use your voice out there,” Brown said. “When you go to your polling site it’s important to note that Nebraska currently has no voter ID law, so after you register, you can then just go to the polling site and tell them your name.”
Brown works to ensure that all Husker students who want to make their voices heard can do so, either at their college address or their permanent home address.
“As an institution, we want to educate students on what’s happening around our community and use their voice to make a difference,” he said. “It’s important for us to educate students to be those future leaders through that group and getting people out to vote.”
Ken Bartling, a sophomore at Nebraska U., is the chairman of the Husker Vote Coalition. Husker Vote is a registered student organization that is nonpartisan and student-led and aims to build on the university’s already-high voter registration rate. It also helps students get more engaged in the community and turns out the vote not only among students but also in the surrounding community.
“As a registered voter, you are fighting for sacred traditions that have been defended over countless generations in millions of ways,” Bartling said. “Being a registered voter means there’s an inherent responsibility to defend democracy through advocacy.”
For students that want to get more involved, the Husker Vote Coalition always welcomes more student ambassadors to assist them in reinforcing democratic participation, Brown said. The role is a year-round position, not just during election season.
Bartling said: “The biggest thing is to talk to one another, students, friends, parents, and just start thinking about how you would like to engage with your system and community. At the end of the day, casting a ballot is important but what’s more important is to have that free exchange of ideas and have that discourse.”
To learn more about the Husker Vote Coalition, click here.