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How do Mercer University students vote?

Archived Photo by Mahima Sultan
Archived Photo by Mahima Sultan

More college students are going to the polls than ever, but Mercer students turn out at higher rates than others schools, whether it be in person or through absentee ballots. In the 2016 election, Mercer had the highest student voter participation rate among NCAA Division 1 schools, according to a Mercer press release.

“The 18 to 24 demographic is really an untapped swing group that I think at some point is going to be tapped in. They could really carry the election,” Doug Pearson, Mercer’s vice president for student affairs and dean of students, said in an interview that year.

Mercer’s overall voting rate was 54.3, and 80 percent of its students were registered to vote, according to a study in the National Study on Learning, Voting and Engagement (NSLVE) report.

Some Mercer students have changed their registration to vote in Bibb County as opposed to sending in an absentee or provisional ballot or early voting in their hometown.

Georgia has increased their early vote rates among 18 to 29-year-olds by nearly five times in comparison to 2014, according to The Independent.

Monliyah King, a freshman, is among the many students that changed their voter registration in order to cast their ballots in Macon this year. She said she feels it is her civic duty to participate in the voting process.

“I feel like everyone’s voice should be heard, and voting is a way to do that,” King said.

Student Jamilah Hudgins also changed her ballot so she could vote early in Macon. She said that the process to change her registration was a lot easier than she expected it to be.

“I think that people complain a lot about the problems that are going on, but they do nothing to change it. But why not vote to do at least something instead of sitting on Twitter?” she said.

Mobilize Mercer is a student-driven voting initiative that seeks to raise voter awareness and participation on Mercer’s Macon campus.

The group held a watch party after polls closed Nov. 6 in the Connell Student Center to celebrate the turnout. They provided wings, pizza and doughnuts for students to enjoy as they waited on the results to come in.

In the past, the club has organized voter registration drives, held other watch parties and conducted polls to educate students about the importance of voting.

Civic Youth, an organization that gathers statistics, found that approximately 50 percent of eligible young adults voted in the 2016 election. That equals roughly 24 million votes.

A study conducted by The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, or CIRCLE, in early 2016 projected that voters aged from 18-29 years old had the most potential to impact the Presidential and Congressional elections.   

Despite the large increase in voter participation this election, some students still do not participate. Mercer student Will Kerdasha is among this group.

“I just don’t vote,” he said. “I just feel like the whole system is kind of corrupt. Politicians are self interested. I don’t feel like my vote has that much of an impact.”


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