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SEN-11-18 Bill for Voter Registration at Orientation

RESOLUTION #: SEN-11-18

TITLE: Bill for Voter Registration at Orientation

SPONSOR: Rob Tank, East Campus Senator (rtank@vols.utk.edu)

Grant Peterson, College of Business Senator (gpeter11@vols.utk.edu)

Mateos Hayes, Arts and Sciences Senator (mhayes57@vols.utk.edu)

DATE: 6 February 2018

Whereas, voter turnout on campus has been historically low, and

Whereas, in the 2014 midterm election, voter participation on campus was a mere 16% [1], and

Whereas, the 2014 registration rate on campus was only 64.4% [1], and

Whereas, the University of Florida has had both higher registration and turnout rates in the 2012 and 2014 elections [1], and

Whereas, many students are deterred from registering to vote based on an unfounded notion that the process will be long and difficult, and

Whereas, many incoming freshman are registered to vote in their hometown and neither change their registration, nor request an absentee ballot on time, and

Whereas, 24% of non-registered young people, in 2004, were not registered because they either did not know how, or simply did not meet the registration deadline [2], and

Whereas, providing all incoming Freshman with an opportunity to register or update their registration to their new, on-campus address will allow and encourage students to

be involved members of not only the University, but the Knoxville community as a whole, and

Whereas, Millennials make up the largest eligible voting bloc, but one of the smallest in participation, and

Whereas, with active participation, America’s youth has the ability to swing elections, as well as determine the topics and talking points of those running for office, and

Whereas, the Howard Baker Center is now the designated polling location for on-campus addresses, making polls more accessible to students now than ever before, and

Whereas, the Student Government Association was established, in part, to, “organize and mobilize student involvement in seeking solutions to the serious problems facing the community, the nation, and humankind; to promote the recognition of student’s rights and responsibilities to the university, the community, and humanity,” and

Whereas, with higher registration rates on campus, the Howard Baker Center could divert funds from initiatives to register students to informing students on candidates and voting procedure/locations, and

Whereas, the Department of New Student and Family Programs is reluctant to include the orientation process in advocating for voter registration out of fear of “politicizing,’’ the program and its employees, and

Whereas, if the above were not true or is ever to change, the 2017-2018 Undergraduate Student Senate would request that:

1. The Office of New Student & Family Programs require Orientation Leaders to distribute paper copies of Voter Registration Forms to their respective small groups.

2. The Office of New Student and Family Programs, with the help of the Baker Ambassadors, prepare Orientation Leaders to answer any basic questions new

students may have regarding the registration and voting process.

3. The Student Government Association see to the delivery of any completed registration forms to their respective counties.

Be it hereby resolved, the 2017-2018 Undergraduate Student Senate requests that the Student Government establish and administer a table at the Orientation Engagement Fairs with the primary objective of registering new students to vote.

[1] National Study of Learning, Voting, Engagement. (2015, March). University of Tennessee

Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) Student Voting Rates for OPEID # 003510.00. Retrieved May 08, 2017, fromhttp://studylib.net/doc/12265355/university%C2%A0of%C2%A0tennessee-national%C2%A0study%C2%A0of%C2%A0learn...

[2] Kawashima-Ginsberg, Kei. (2014, June). Voter Registration among Young People in Midterm

Elections. Retrieved August 25, 2017, from http://www.civicyouth.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/CIRCLE_FS2014_YouthRegistration.pdf

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