Student-led initiative petitions to cancel classes on Election Day

Emily DeLetter

Tuesday was National Voter Registration Day, and students at WKU exercised their democratic duty by registering to vote and signing a petition to cancel classes on Election Day.

The petition is sponsored by “Reg2Vote”, a nonpartisan initiative that is independent from Student Government Association or other WKU organizations. Akron, Ohio, senior Francis Wilson started the initiative two weeks ago because he said he noticed it was difficult to find student resources to help with registration and voting.

“I wanted to think of a way that would mobilize students,” Wilson said. “People might be registered in their home counties but want to vote in Bowling Green or want information about how to get absentee ballots. Our campaign is to fill in the gaps with resources and empower the idea that voting is important.”

Reg2Vote had previously released a photo and video campaign to bolster voter registration, but Wilson said he wanted to hold a public outreach event where they could “directly interact” with students.

Several tables were set up Tuesday evening at Downing Student Union and several residence halls including Minton Hall Hugh Poland Hall and Pearce-Ford Tower. Passing students were able to scan a QR code using their cell phones which took them directly to the petition. Another page giving directions for voter registration followed the petition.

“There are now thousands of students talking about registering to vote,” Wilson said. “That in itself is a grand success. Our next step is to see where the university takes this dialogue.”

Shelbyville sophomore Alexis Miller stopped by the Reg2Vote table on Tuesday and registered to vote for the first time after signing the petition. Miller said that if classes were cancelled she would go back to Shelbyville to vote in the local elections. 

“It’s our chance to have a voice in the government,” Miller said. “There are a lot of people who really want to vote but their classes or jobs might not let them have a chance. Cancelling classes would be a big help.”

SGA recently approved a resolution supporting the petition to cancel class on Election Day and a $300 donation for shirts, posters and buttons.

Wilson said that as of Wednesday morning more than 1800 people had signed the petition.

Louisville junior Ryan Linton said he recently changed his voting registration to Bowling Green so he could vote in their elections. Linton has helped work on history professor Patti Minter’s campaign for Kentucky state representative.

“I live here primarily, and it makes sense for me to vote here too,” Linton said. “Voting is a fundamental right and it’s our way to create change. I think these elections are going to be interesting this year because so many different kinds of people are running. It’s really incredible what’s happening.”

Reporter Emily DeLetter can be reached at 270-745-6011 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @emilydeletter.