This year, for the first time, Big Red Welcome included an opportunity for new students to register to vote.
During campus move-in Aug 13-16 at the Bob Devaney Sports Center, the Husker Vote Coalition connected with more than 19% of the nearly 5,000 Husker students moving to campus. For the four-day period, 957 students became registered voters — 123 in Nebraska and 834 outside the state. The Husker Vote Coalition is a student-led effort to educate and register voters on campus.
“It’s important for our students to be civically engaged, and that begins with voting,” said Andrew Brown, assistant director of community engagement and adviser of the Husker Vote Coalition. “Probably, the best thing about doing this is having those conversations with students and seeing that ‘aha’ moment when they realize they have a voice and that it’s important to be engaged.”
This is another milestone for voter engagement amongst University of Nebraska–Lincoln students. With 92% of students being registered to vote, Nebraska is No. 1 among Big Ten campuses. For the 2020 General Election, the ALL IN Campus Democracy Initative named the university a Gold Medal Campus for having more than 70% of students cast a ballot in the election. More recently, NASPA honored UNL as a Voter Friendly Campus, one of only 258 institutions nationwide to be honored for 2022-23.
These successes have caught the positive attention of top-ranking county and state election officials. At the move-in registration drive, Lancaster County Election Commissioner Todd Wiltgen and Deputy Lancaster County Election Commissioner Becki Gaston-Wise traveled to the Devaney Center to observe the efforts and to interact with HVC members. In addition, in March, members of the Husker Vote Coalition had the opportunity to hear from Deputy Secretary of State for Elections Wayne Bena, who provided students with information about how elections are run in the state of Nebraska.
The coming weeks are another active period for the organization. National Voter Registration Day is Sept. 19. To mark the day, the Husker Vote Coalition is hosting two registration events: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 19 on Nebraska Union Memorial Plaza, and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept 21 at Nebraska East Union.
Additionally, student applications to serve as a Campus Vote Ambassador are due Sept. 22. The group is looking to add 25–30 more students to the 32 current ambassadors.