Student political orgs register voters independently regardless of statewide competition

Lia Nagge '21, Staff Writer

For those who are able to vote, a majority of them only go to the polls every four years for the presidential election. While vital to society, the presidential election often overshadows another equally important race: the midterm elections. Despite this being a  time where the public votes for who to put into Congress, midterm elections are often the least attended voting sessions.

This year, however, organizations and state officials across the nation are gearing up for the upcoming election in November. One such official is Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett. On Sept. 25, Hargett put forth a challenge to colleges across the state: the College Voter Registration Competition. In the College Voter Registration Competition, institutions throughout the state will compete to spread awareness about the campaign through social media, via the hashtag #GoVoteTN. At the end of the competition, three schools will be chosen to be publicly recognized in the Hargett’s office based upon the amount of students registered, social media presence and the campus’s creativity in promoting the drive.

While many colleges may have already signed up to take part in the Secretary Hargett’s contest, it is uncertain whether Rhodes College will participate. While Rhodes College Republicans hesitate to commit to the competition, the Rhodes College Democrats insist they will not participate, instead hosting nonpartisan voter registration drives outside of their organization.

Both are hoping to put forth more programs that educate students on how to register to vote as well as making them aware of state deadlines in order to participate in the upcoming election. Registration to vote in both Tennessee and Texas is Oct. 9, and can be done online through the state’s website. This registration, however,  is required in order to request an absentee ballot, a ballot for those who are voting outside of their assigned district. As many may not know, Tennessee state laws require voters to send in a form requesting an absentee ballot no earlier than 90 days before the election, but no later than seven daysleaving a tight time gap for students to send in a letter asking for the ballot. While this date range varies from state to state, Texas, for example, has the absentee ballot deadline as Oct. 26, a rapidly approaching date.

Students can register to vote and request an absentee ballot through a number of different official website, and can be done with the aid of either the Rhodes College Democrats or Rhodes College Republicans. Should there be any questions or concerns about the midterm election or voting in general, Hargett is visiting the University of Memphis from Sept. 25 to Sept. 26, at 5-6 PM and 11 AM-12 PM, respectively, at Lambuth Campus.