ECU helps students vote


This article was originally published by The East Carolinian at East Carolina University and is republished here as part of the One Vote North Carolina student media collaboration. Copyright by The East Carolinian

East Carolina University and the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement have provided students with the means to participate in today’s midterm elections.

For students who live on campus, a flyer was issued out by ECU’s Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement with a shuttle route to and from voting locations. The flyer said these shuttles will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today, and are open to any students who needs transportation.

According to the flyer, the campus is split between five polling locations including Hooker Memorial Church, First Presbyterian Church, St. James United Methodist Church, Cypress Glenn Auditorium and the Willis Building. The shuttles will pick up students at College Hill and Wright Auditorium on campus.

Dennis McCunney, director of CLCE, said the shuttle system is in place to prevent transportation from being an issue when it comes to participation.

“All of us are members of our democracy,” McCunney said. “To make democracy work, everyone needs to participate, everyone needs to be informed, everyone needs to be engaged.”

McCunney said one of the biggest ways people can achieve this democracy is by exercising their right to vote, which he described as a unique American tradition. He said the CLCE has been working to eliminate barriers for accessing the polls so students can be a part of the voting experience for midterm elections.

McCunney said CLCE has been running programs to encourage civic engagement. He said he has tried to put on an array of events from bringing in guest speakers on current issues to actively encouraging voter registration.

McCunney said some students may have a harder time participating than others, but added it is as important to encourage fellow students to vote as it is to make sure people are paying taxes or following federal and state laws.

“None of us are individuals,” McCunney said. “All of us are part of a community. So, to make sure we are supporting each other, to being informed, to making sure that we’re being represented well, that we need to all participate.”

McCunney said there are certain actions citizens of the United States all need to do to make this community and country work and run smoothly.

“I think it is important for all of us to encourage each other and help hold each other accountable, but also have some conversation about how the issues that are being addressed affect all of us,” McCunney said.

McCunney said the center will host an election day viewing party tonight in Mendenhall Student Center while midterm election results are being tallied and announced.

“We are hosting an election night watch party on election day to bring together students and provide some good food in celebration of this important part of our culture that’s really free and open to all students,” McCunney said.

Alex Dennis, associate director of the CLCE, said tonight’s event will be held in Cynthia’s Lounge starting at 7. He said this party will serve as a celebration of democracy, complete with American themed decorations.

Dennis said he leads a student-based organization within the CLCE called the Democratic Engagement team. He said it has spearheaded efforts to get students to participate in today’s election.

“We’ve been doing a lot of tabling events, presentations in COAD classes for student orgs, just getting out there and getting information to students about the elections,” Dennis said.

Dennis said the shuttles on election day are for students who are registered to vote in Greenville. He said the locations listed on the flyer are also the voting locations for the nearby apartment complexes, as well as the Tar River/University Neighborhood Association (TRUNA).

Dennis said the shuttles are geared toward on-campus students who do not have cars, but students who live off campus can still catch the bus at College Hill or Wright Auditorium.

“These are the top five (voting locations) for ECU students in our area,” Dennis said, referring to the five listed on the flyer. “I’m thinking the route should take 30, 45 minutes, but it will be running for five hours.”

Dennis said students should check the North Carolina Voter Registration website for their specific precinct. He said students should know their specific polling locations so they can be aware of when to get off the shuttle bus. Dennis added at least one member of the Democratic Engagement team will be on each shuttle bus at all times to provide assistance to students with voting and polling location questions.

Perpetual Sowah, a freshman neuroscience major, said she is a member of the Democratic Engagement team. She said midterm election voting is important for ECU students because they have an opportunity to cause a huge impact on the elections due to the number of students enrolled at the university.

“Increasing voter turnout in young adults would probably change the way elections turnout,” Sowah said.

Sowah said having peers who care about elections and politics can have a positive impact on those who are on the fence about voting. She said she always tries to get students engaged in voting in elections, whether they may be on the local, state or federal level, because it is their responsibility as an American to participate.

Sowah said students should care about all elections, both midterm and presidential, because these election decisions can affect others, as well as impact their own future.

“Not caring has effects on what happens to you and how it shapes your future,” Sowah said. “If you don’t care about your future, you might as well not vote.”

Sowah said she personally has made election day posters, talked to people and handed out election bracelets for the Democratic Engagement team so she can to get the word out about midterm elections to ECU students.

Jonathan Morris, undergraduate director of the political science department, predicts the Democratic Party will take a majority in the US House of Representatives, the Republican Party will maintain its majority in the US Senate and all six amendments to the North Carolina constitution will likely pass.

For more general information on today’s election day, including a description of the proposed amendments and information on candidates, please visit Pitt County’s website.