Brookhaven continues registration drive.
By Erika Torres
Voting registration for the local election Nov. 7 has begun. Eligible voters can register from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sept. 26, National Voter Registration Day, in the Commons Courtyard.
Brookhaven Votes!, a team encouraging students, staff and faculty to vote, registered about 1,500 voters last fall, Susie McMinn, voter action coordinator, said. McMinn said Brookhaven Votes! has registered about 3,000 voters since 2014.
Carrie Schweitzer, director of sustainability, said local elections have a low turnout, but even a few votes can make a difference. Schweitzer said voting is critical, and she believes there is a lot at stake for the future. She said eligible voters need to get involved to elect leaders who represent the perspectives, policies and values of the community, which is essential for building a school district, state or nation.
Volunteers are visiting classrooms to inform students about the importance of voting and tell personal voting stories to encourage students to register. McMinn said visiting classrooms helps the Brookhaven Votes! team make a connection with students, whereas giving them a piece of paper and telling them to fill it out does not.
Mariela Lomeli, a student, said she registered to vote as a result of a volunteer visiting her classroom. “Most people don’t really think, ‘Oh yeah, let me go register today,’ so they go to you and it’s much easier,” Lomeli said. McMinn said Brookhaven Votes! turned down a table at the Welcome Back Party in the Commons Courtyard because students rarely registered during the event in the past. Talking with students and mingling is what helps. “Voting is not a conversation that goes on anymore … so we are just trying to have a conversation with everybody,” she said.
Brookhaven Votes! is trying to not only register people to vote, but also create a voting culture involving underrepresented youth. In an email to The Courier, Schweitzer said Brookhaven College played a critical role in the designation of Dallas County Community College District campuses as early voting locations in November 2016.
McMinn said a petition to the county was made to allow early voting at Brookhaven, resulting in other campuses having a two-day early voting period, as well. The petition was renewed. “They tell me they are pretty sure it will go through again because we had a really good turnout,” McMinn said. She said the 2016 registration outcome resulted in 1,300 votes from participants.
McMinn said she believes younger generations have not been taught the importance of voting, and people must first begin to have a conversation about voting and its importance.
MAKE A DIFFERENCE
McMinn said with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival issue, people can vote for new legislators to influence national policy. She said many people fail to vote because they do not think about future issues they may be affected by or have an opinion about.
Brookhaven Votes! launched in Fall 2014. The team is made up of IGNITE, the Brookhaven Student Government Association, the Green Team Coalition, administrators, faculty, volunteers and McMinn’s team, Schweitzer said. McMinn said bringing the voting to the campus is a key element to have registered voters follow through.