The Associated Student Body Senate unanimously passed a resolution urging Lafayette County to create a polling place on the university campus for local, state and national elections at its Tuesday night meeting.
“We want to get students more civically engaged, especially here in the Lafayette-Oxford community,” said Sen. Anna Hall. “The county supervisors are ultimately the ones that have the deciding power about polling places in the county, but this is us saying we endorse them putting one on campus.”
Hall worked with ASB Sens. Nick Weaver and Will West alongside ASB Director of Voter Registration and Elections Jarrius Adams on this resolution to improve student involvement in elections.
“The committee on external affairs and the committee on academics are highly dedicated to increasing voter turnout here at the University of Mississippi,” Weaver said. “Having a polling place on campus would be a great first step toward accomplishing that.”
The authors said there are still logistical issues preventing the creation of a polling place on campus, and they hope this resolution will put pressure on Lafayette County officials to solve them.
“Lafayette County has one of the lowest turnout rates and lowest registration rates in the state, which is crazy because with the university, you would think that students would be engaged, but that’s not the case,” Sen. Jarvis Benson said. “Students really do want to be engaged, and students really need to be engaged. We deserve to have a precinct and polling place.”
Benson was among several senators, including the ASB Attorney General’s office, who said that they want to offer Ole Miss students more opportunities and incentives to exercise their constitutional right to vote.
“An opportunity in which we can try to promote more voting and actually participating in the democratic process is important, especially among an age group that inherently is not participating in elections currently,” Sen. Corbin Fox said.
Weaver said the ultimate goal of increasing voter turnout among university students could also manifest itself through cancelling class on Election Day or reinstating a polling place in the Jackson Avenue Center.
“We’re also looking to lobby Lafayette County for the redistricting in 2020 to make a specific district, specifically for the University of Mississippi,” Weaver said.
Weaver said the university administration supports the creation of a polling place on campus and has proposed the Inn at Ole Miss, the Tad Smith Coliseum and the Gertrude C. Ford Center as prospective locations.
“Jarrius Adams was initially pushing the university to get the polling place on campus, and he believes that this is the way to really get students more involved, along with having voter registration drives and the like,” Hall said.
Adams made an announcement Tuesday through a video posted to the ASB Facebook page encouraging out-of-state students to vote through absentee ballots.
“If you need to get (your ballot) notarized, you can get it notarized here in the Lyceum for free,” Adams said. “It’s really important, so get it done.”