Due to restrictions put in place by the Monongalia County Clerk's Office, West Virginia University has canceled its plan to have live polling locations on this coming Election Day, instead launching a campaign to register students to vote.
With the pandemic, like everything else, voting looks a little different this year.
“We have to limit in-person engagement,” said Eric Murphy, assistant director of WVU’s Center for Service and Learning.
The Center for Service and Learning is still trying to have more students involved in the election. Hunter Hardway, a sophomore chemical engineering student, has partnered with the center to launch a campaign to register students to vote.
“I want students to know how powerful their vote is,” Hardway said. “We often feel powerless in our political landscape to effect change. Voting is our power.”
The campaign will run through West Virginia’s voter registration deadline, which is Oct. 13. Hardway’s team will then begin pushing students to mail in their ballots or show up to in-person voting on Election Day.
“It only takes one to inspire another to inspire even more to go and make change in our political landscape by going to the polls,” said Hardway.
Marketing material is distributed throughout resident halls, offering a QR code that links to Turbovote.org, which helps people register to vote and gives more information on the various processes to follow depending on how one plans to vote. The site also allows you to sign up for reminders of specific dates surrounding the election.
“The goal is to let them know their different options,” said Amelia Jones, a student volunteer in the Center for Service and Learning’s Social Action Clinic. “It’s all about ease, convenience, and engagement.”
The campaign is also being posted on both the Center for Service and Learning’s Instagram page, "@wvucsl," and the Social Action Clinic’s Instagram, "@wvusocialactionclinic."
“Look to your local and state elections, see how many votes someone won by, then consider how getting more students to vote could change the next election,” Hardway said. “Especially considering how only around 50% of college students vote, even in presidential elections.”
At the moment there is no plan to have in-person polling in future elections, as the center is taking it one year at a time.