Inactive voter status may be a prevalent issue at UCCS, and not necessarily because students don’t want to vote.
Students who live on campus and did not update their address over the summer may have had their primary mail ballot returned as undeliverable. If a ballot is returned, voting clerks do not send general election ballots in November and will not send another ballot until the voter’s record is updated. This means that students who live on campus and wish to vote may not receive further ballots unless they do something to change their voter status.
SGA Senator at Large Amanda Ford is working with her colleague, Senator of Innovation Ember Rabe, to address the issue. They are motivated to fix the issue because, to them, it’s essential that as many people go out and vote as possible.
“It’s important to allow people … to go out and vote and make a change in your community,” Rabe said.
This issue is especially impactful for Coloradans because Colorado is primarily a mail-in ballot state.
Rabe and Ford are addressing the issue with the help of Colorado Campus organizer Tom Byron, who specializes in civic engagements for universities across Colorado. The three are using a database program called miniVAN that has information about registered, active and inactive voters.
Through the miniVAN program, Byron can see which addresses at the Summit and Alpine dorm mailing rooms were registered as inactive.
Their next step is to target those inactive voters digitally. “They’re going to compile the list of who’s an active voter and who’s an inactive voter, and they’re going to target the inactive with the TextOut program,” Ford said.
The program will text inactive students, informing them they’re currently registered as inactive, explaining why and then providing them with the steps to fix their status.
According to Ford, the team will know the project is successful when they plug everything back into miniVAN during the voter registration deadlines and see a decrease in the number of inactive voters.
Ford also wants to plan with Byron to do a follow-up with face-to-face contact to inform students of their inactive status because she believes knocking on doors is the most effective method of getting people to do something.
“Whether they go out and vote is their prerogative, but just fixing it so they have the ability to. Because if you’re inactive if you want to get a ballot you can’t,” Ford said.
Ford said she is not satisfied with just this project and would like to do something preemptive for the future. “This is a little reactionary,” she said. “It’s a reactionary method to something that already happened.”
Her next goal is to find a way to gather primary ballots and distribute them to students or make them available for students to pick up whenever they arrive back on campus.
Making sure young people can vote is crucial to Rabe and Ford. “In the next 10, 15, 20 years, it’s going to be the legislation, the policies that are affecting us. We need to be shaping public policy because we’re going to be the ones that are going to have to live with it and deal with it for the next 10, 20, 30 years,” Ford said.
Photo courtesy of alreporter.com.