The Campus Activities Board speakers committee hosted “Before the Ballot,” an event aimed at getting more college students to the polls and educating them on the importance of voting Monday night.
The event consisted of four panelists: Bill Cowles, Jeff Strange, Rachel Bettencourt and Michael Hodapp. These individuals gave opinions and insight as to why they believe younger people are not coming out to the polls.
Nanda Mamane, a senior psychology major and director of speakers for CAB, organized the event in order to increase voter turnout.
“The voter turnout has been really low in the past few years for students,” Mamane said. “[We’re] trying to make sure that at least UCF, as a whole, … knows that our vote matters.”
Throughout the event, students were invited to ask panelists questions on how to get involved in politics. Questions ranged from the weight of an individual’s vote to how to recruit more people out to vote.
Cowles, the supervisor of elections for Orange County, provided statistics and awareness to the low voter turnout issues.
“College students vote the heaviest in the presidential election year,” Cowles said. “But there’s also other issues on the ballot that are just as important.”
Cowles said he wants college students to understand the deadlines for registering to vote, the different ways to get their votes in and that they have to vote based on where they live. Everyone does not necessarily have the luxury of voting on campus, he added.
UCF is currently holding different programs in order to encourage voter turnout among students. One of the programs included registering students to vote as they were checking-in on move-in day at various on-campus housing locations.
“It was incredibly uplifting to see both the reactions the parents had while also the students,” said Strange, the legislative affairs coordinator for SGA. “A good problem that we had is that a lot of students were already registered.”
After the event, about 570 students became registered voters, meaning they will be able to vote on Nov. 8 in the general election.
SGA has partnered with the Office of Supervisor of Elections in Orange County and with the Legal Women Voters group. They help with educating students on candidates and how to vote while also ensuring they have the resources to register to vote.
SGA also plans on bussing students to the polls during early voting. More information will be available closer to early voting, which is two weeks before the general election date.
The event not only emphasized the importance of voting locally and nationally, but also how important it is for students to vote for their SGA representatives as well.
“I think it’s important that students are actually educated on why these senators are here,” said Bettencourt, the supervisor of elections for SGA. “I really want students to know what they’re voting for … I’m working on informing the student body as a whole.”
Up until voting day, students have the opportunity to register to vote on campus. Senate elections will begin next week and students will have the opportunity to interact with senators from other UCF campuses.