Following Raleigh's municipal elections, Pack the Polls, an initiative co-chaired by student government and leadership and civic engagement, aims to serve as an integral resource for NC State students hoping to learn more about the voting process and have their voices heard.
For many college students, their first voting experience occurs while they are living at school. In order for students to take an active role in democracy, they must have access to information pertaining to upcoming elections, voter registration, the voting process and voting locations. According to Brian Mathis, associate director for leadership and civic engagement, this is the goal of Pack the Polls.
Mathis said students who learn the skills surrounding voting are more likely to vote in future elections.
“While in college students are learning lots of things, this is one of those things to learn. To continue to be a participant in our democracy beyond college too,” Mathis said.
Mathis said Pack the Polls raises student awareness about the resources offered on their website by handing out stickers and buttons, holding voter registration drives and tagging social media posts “#PackthePolls”. This year, Pack the Polls provided RA’s with voter registration papers for their new residents.
“We handed out 10,000 voter registration forms to all of the RA’s so giving every resident on campus, if you are eligible to register to vote, the option to register to vote, we collected quite a few voter registrations through that process,” Mathis said.
Emma Carter, student body president and fourth-year studying sociology and international studies, has been working closely with Mathis and Pack the Polls to continue to increase student’s access to voter resources. Carter stressed the importance of NC State students participating in state, federal and local elections.
“I think it's important for students to get involved because these are the people who are representing them,” Carter said. “While all are important, local elections are the people that our students are going to directly interact with.”
While local representatives have a large influence the day to day life of NC State students, students have the ability to seriously impact their local government. For example, according to Mathis, 40 percent of registered voters of the precinct that includes NC State live within 1,500 feet of Witherspoon Student Center. For this reason, Pack the Polls wants to move the polling site from the current cite at Pullen Community to Witherspoon Student Center to make the voting process easier for students Mathis said.
While Pack the Polls aims to get students to the polls, Carter said students should take time to explore the information on the website and begin utilizing the resources available.
“I would just encourage people to read up on what you are voting for, and who you are voting for and the Pack the Polls website has everything you need,” Carter said.