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Students inspired to vote with upcoming midterm elections
With midterm elections set to take place Nov. 4, the results could change the face of the United States Senate and the House of Representatives.
General elections include all 435 seats of the House of Representatives and 33 of the 100 Senate seats, including area congressmen and one of the Senate seats from Virginia.
With a large portion of seats up for election, voting will take center stage around the nation as well as here at Liberty University. However, students will first need to register before they can vote.
At present, all students can register by getting a form at the Student Conduct Office where someone will be able to answer questions and help with the
In order for students to fill out a registration form to vote, they will need to know their social security number as well as their MSC box number. Students who have voted elsewhere in previous elections will also need their previous registration address when switching to Liberty’s address.
The deadline for students to hand in registration to the Dean of Students Office for this year’s general election is Oct. 8. After this date, students will need to bring their forms to the city registrar office by Oct. 14, or they may register online at vote.virginia.gov.
According to Bradley Milks, assistant director of programming at Liberty, the university has, over the past few years, been striving to make it easier for students to cast a ballot.
“We’re hoping to make the process very easy for students this year,” Milks said. “One of the cool things about Liberty is we actually have the precinct on campus in the Vines Center, so that makes it easy for (on-campus) students to come and vote.”
Prior to 2012, Liberty did not have a precinct on campus, and students were required to travel across the city in order to cast a ballot at a voting precinct.
Lynchburg City Council decided to redraw city voting lines in October 2011 after Liberty recruited 4,122 on-campus students to register to vote. In the following 2012 Republican presidential primary, Liberty’s voting precinct received more votes than any other precinct in the state, with 590 total votes.
Now, on campus students are able to vote in the Vines Center rather than taking time out of busy schedules to travel to vote at another local precinct.
According to Milks, Virginia law mandates that voters show a valid photo ID when voting at the polls.
“(Students) should always have their Flames pass on them when they’re going to vote if they’re registered on campus,” Milks said. “It’s a quick and easy process.”
Milks encouraged students to research the candidates in order to understand their values and where they stand on political ideals. Candidates often display their views on their individual websites, making it easy for the public to understand the candidates. Debates and other public appearances will also give insight into their character and concerns.
“A big thing I would suggest is research the individuals who are running for office,” Milks said. “You don’t want to go in blind without knowing what the candidates’ beliefs are and what their platforms are.”
With this many open seats, the Republican Party is pushing to gain a majority in the Senate while the Democrats are hoping to hold on to the current majority. The Republicans already maintain a majority in the House, though it is up for grabs with several tight elections across the country.
According to a News and Advance article discussing the low turnout across the city, only 200 students voted in the Vines Center in the last Lynchburg City Council election in May 2014, which was significantly fewer than what had been expected.
“In terms of the last election, we had hoped every registered voter would have voted in the city council election,” Milks said. “We were honestly expecting more.”
According to the Lynchburg registrar’s website, 5,700 students were registered to vote on Liberty’s campus during the spring 2014 city council elections, though only 60 percent, or 3,415 of those registered voters are active.
Milks’ office regularly sends out reminders to students to stay active or change their status once they graduate or move away.
As the midterm elections approach, it is vital that students understand the difference their voices can make.
“The great thing about Liberty is that students here actually have the ability to impact a state election, which is really encouraging,” Milks said. “It’s really something students should rally behind, that they do have an opportunity to make a difference in today’s world.”
Though students often feel the weight of a busy schedule and may be skeptical of the importance of a single vote, the votes of Liberty students can and do sway election outcomes.
“What’s one vote?” Milks said. “One vote is very important. If you get 4,000 people who think ‘I’m just one vote,’ there are 4,000 votes that never occurred. You may think you’re only one vote, but that one vote is very important.”
During the November 2013 elections for Virginia’s attorney general, the voting difference between the candidates showed the importance of each vote. More than two million votes were cast, but Republican State Sen. Mark Obenshain conceded the attorney general’s race to current Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring after being defeated by only 165 votes, according to the Washington Post.
According to the Lynchburg registrar, only 1,171 votes were cast out of 5,700 registered voters on Liberty’s campus during that November 2013 election. If even half of the registered voters on campus had voted, it might have significantly altered the election results for that position.
For more information on casting a ballot here at Liberty, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Dean of Students Office in Green Hall 1830 to learn more about the voting process.