Wesleyan Engaged and Marlins Vote are pairing up in an effort to increase student voter registration and voter turnout on Nov. 6 Virginia Beach voters will elect for many high-ranking positions including a senator, a house representative, a mayor, six city council members, five school board members, and two proposed Constitutional amendments.
Brian Kurisky, Director of Wesleyan Engaged, is leading efforts to helping students go vote. Marlin’s Vote and Wesleyan Engaged set up a forum where students could learn about both candidates that are running for the Second Congressional District.
There will be shuttles running students to the nearest polling place “We will have the Wesleyan Engaged van running the entire day starting probably around eight in the morning throughout until the evening from the Marlin over to the Good Samaritan[Episcopal Church] where the polling place is,” Kurisky said. The voting process is a quick one where students who have little time between classes still can participate.”It allows them to be part of the civic engagement, do their civic responsibility, and not have to worry about anything,” Kurisky said. The final shuttle for the day will be leaving around 6:30 p.m for the final students. A sample ballot can be found on the school’s website under Wesleyan Engaged in an area titled Voting Information.
The process of voting has been around in the U.S. for over 200 years. Why is it important to get VWU students to go vote? Kurisky said that studies show that when students begin voting in college, they are more likely to continue voting and that they are more civically engaged. Kurisky said that studies have shown that local citizens have more innovative ideas for the issues of their area. “Having our students become civically engaged they know the problems and the issues they are facing in the area,” Kurisky said.
Scott Taylor and Elaine Luria are the two main candidates running for the Second Congressional District in Virginia. The Second District includes the cities of Virginia Beach and Williamsburg, parts of the city in Norfolk and Hampton, portion of York County, and all of Accomack and Northampton Counties.Both congressional candidates appeared on campus in recent weeks.The positions in the House of Representatives are up for reelection every two years. Unlike the presidency, one can serve as a member of Congress for an unlimited amount of terms.
VWU has recently been recertified as a voter friendly campus. It is one of only four schools in Virginia that can say that. “What that means is that we run programs to get people to register,” Kurisky said. Why is this important for the students? This includes having programs that set up students to get registered to vote, how to get an absentee ballot, bringing in candidates to speak, and even taking them to the polling place: “So that our students have a one-stop shop,” Kurisky said.
Wesleyan Engaged and Marlins Vote, since the start of September, was able to send in over 35 registrations. An absentee ballot is used by citizens that are unable to attend their designated polling place. The final day to request an absentee ballot by mail is Oct. 30.
The National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) provides a service to colleges and universities to figure out their students’ voting habits. “The NSLVE did a report based on the 2012-2016 campus… in 2016 the voting rate was just under 50% for our students,” Kurisky said. What is the new goal to reach in terms of students going out to vote? ” Our goal is to increase this to 55%,” Kurisky said. The school increased the voter turnout from 2012-2016, and their goal again is to increase it even further.
The turnaround in elections and the focus will shift quickly after this election cycle. About few weeks after this election, Kurisky will begin to plan for the state elections in November of 2019. With the increase in the recent elections, hopes are only growing larger for the amount of students at VWU that go and vote.