Students register to vote in the Nebraska Union at a table.
Lauren McNeal (middle) sets up the voter registration drive booth on Wednesday, October 30th. Mcneal serves as the chair of the Government Liaison Committee. (Photo by Sarah Parkin)

Nothing says democracy like free food.

This week, the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska encouraged UNL students to register to vote in the Union Crib with incentives such as free Raising Cane’s chicken fingers and Krispy Kreme donuts. The Government Liaison Committee within ASUN put together the voter registration drive.

From 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on October 30th, students could stop by the ASUN booth in the Union Crib to pick up some lunch and get registered to vote either online through TurboVote or by paper. Out-of-state students could register as well as Nebraska residents.

Lauren McNeal, the student chair of the Government Liaison Committee, believes it’s important to encourage college students to register to vote. As students become of age to vote, they often are the demographic that puts registration off until the last minute or don’t complete it at all.

“Eighteen to 24 year olds is normally the voting group that has the least engagement in politics,” McNeal said. “Policies that our politicians are rolling out are affecting us and we deserve to have our voices heard.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 46.1 percent of eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 29 voted in the 2016 election. All other age demographics had a voter turnout of 58.7 percent or higher.

Jackson Belva, a senior double major in political science and sociology, is also a member of the Government Liaison Committee of ASUN. He believes a voice for a demographic is missing when college-age students don’t vote.

“I think it’s vital for students to register to vote because a lot of students don’t vote,” Belva said. “The interests of Millenials and Gen Z’s are not taken into account in some larger national decisions like climate change, healthcare and education especially. Getting youth registered to vote and encouraging them to vote would change that.”

Belva also believes there it is always the right time to register to vote. Although the 2020 Presidential election is a year away, there are many other voting opportunities Belva believes students should take part in.

“Midterms happen every two years. The primaries for Nebraska is going to happen in May. There are also mayoral elections. There are state legislature elections that happen on a yearly basis,” Belva said. “Presidential elections are not the only time that Americans are allowed to vote.”

Nebraska competes in the Big 10 Voting Challenge, a competition among the 14 universities in the conference to register the most voters. The challenge results will be released sometime this semester, but Nebraska is expected to rank highly, according to McNeal.

On October 30th, ASUN successfully registered 58 students to vote. According to McNeal, more voter registration drives will be held in the upcoming year.

I am a senior journalism major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I also study global studies and political science. . I am particularly interested in human rights-based journalism and hope to pursue a career reporting human rights issues domestically and internationally. I am originally from Aberdeen, South Dakota