Liberty University students who are registered to vote in Virginia let their voices be heard on Tuesday as they cast their ballots in the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial election — many right from campus.
The voting precinct at the university’s basketball arena, the Vines Center (Lynchburg City Third Ward, Second Precinct), was formed in October 2011 and officially opened in March 2012. Last year, students voted for president for the first time from campus, accounting for more votes than any other precinct in Lynchburg, Va. Currently, there are more than 5,700 registered to vote in that precinct.
“I think it is really convenient that Liberty has this voting location on campus,” said senior Colton Hagar after he cast his vote at the Vines Center on Tuesday. “For students who don’t have transportation, they can walk.”
Buses were available every 15 minutes to take students living at Liberty’s Residential Annexes (the former Lynchburg Inn and Quality Inn) off Oddfellows Road to their voting precinct at Sheffield Elementary School.
The privilege to vote is not one the students take lightly.
“Voting is special and it is unique because not every country has the option to. Since we do, we should be out here,” senior Kristi Christensen said.
The university actively encourages its students to be involved in government and politics by being informed, active voters. Liberty collected more than 2,500 voter registration forms last year, many for first-time voters. Throughout the year, Liberty brings in a number of high-profile political figures as guest speakers for Convocation and other events.
Liberty extended an invitation to all major party candidates in the gubernatorial race to address the student body during Convocation. Republican candidate Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli accepted and was joined by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Oct. 28.
“I think it’s really important that we have different politicians come speak at Liberty, from either side. It helps inform students a lot about the issues; it helps let them know what candidates are out there,” said junior Sarah Kimball, president of Liberty’s College Republicans chapter. “The issues of today’s politics really impact students and their futures. If they vote (according to) their values, that will affect us statewide (and) nationwide. It really is a way for students to express their Christian beliefs and values through voting and through government.”
Hagar added that with graduation around the corner, the election holds particularly strong implications to students.
“We are the up-and-coming generation; these are the officials we are electing to provide us a future.”