A campus group registering voters on National Voter Registration Day wants to increase the level of Bowling Green State University student midterm election voting rates — using both old-fashioned and high-tech methods.
“If you don’t vote, you can’t complain with integrity. That’s something I tell everyone. That’s what I believe,” said Harrison Carter, who was in charge of the National Voter Registration Day booth.
BGSU Votes was operating the book in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union on Wednesday morning.
“The first thing you ask is did you vote? If they didn’t, then, well, why are you complaining? You had your chance to have your voice heard.”
The organization is pushing a new texting platform and the results of a comprehensive university voting survey to increase voter registration rates.
Carter is just one of the 10 students from the group operating the booth that day, and has been registering voters since the beginning of the semester. They have already registered 430, mostly first-year students, Carter said.
The organization has exceeded its goal of 200 students, but does not plan to stop. The registration deadline for Ohio is Oct. 9 and will continue at their campus office at 100 University Hall.
In the first hour of operation, they had handed out literature, registered five new voters and started signing up students for text alerts.
BGSU is one of five campuses that are part of a pilot program with the foundation using text message alerts in an attempt to increase voter participation.
The text alerts will give election related information, like registration deadlines and other pertinent facts. Using a cell phone, text “BowlingGreenU” to 555-888 to receive text alerts about the upcoming election
Carter said that in the 2014 midterm election the vote rate for BGSU students was 11.9 percent, while the rate for all campuses nationwide was 18.8 percent. The survey results are available on the BGSU Votes website: www.bgsu.edu/bgsuvotes
“That is something that is very, very low compared to the national average,” Carter said. “It’s something we’re trying to raise up for the midterm election.”
He added that the study was detailed to the extent that it reports voting rates by student major.
Carter is also an Andrew Goodman Foundation Vote Everywhere Student Ambassador. The foundation is one of several organizations partnered with BGSU Votes.
“BGSU Votes is a non-partisan, student-led initiative of the Center for Community and Civic Engagement, focused on fostering a positive climate for political engagement and voter participation,” according to organization literature.
The Andrew Goodman Foundation is a public charity that is more than 50 years old with ambassadors 56 campuses.
“Andrew (Andy) Goodman was a Freedom Summer volunteer, who travelled to Mississippi in 1964 to register African Americans to vote. On his first day, the Ku Klux Klan murdered Andy and two other civil rights workers, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner.”
The foundation website can be found at https://andrewgoodman.org/campus-portal/