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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Scott Kull: The new Director of Athletics
Abigail Taylor, Contributing Writer • April 16, 2024

Reflecting on the Southern Conference voting initiative

Reflecting+on+the+Southern+Conference+voting+initiative

By: Mikala McBride, Contributing Writer

In 2014, only 9 percent of Wofford Students voted in the midterm election. In response to low voter turnout, this fall, the Southern Conference launched a competition among its member colleges in order to encourage students to get more involved. Allen Lollis, resident director and head of Wofford Votes, the particular effort at Wofford, describes it as “an initiative to increase voter engagement on our campus, to increase voter turnout among our student body and to improve the voter education issues that seem to be issues on college campuses these days.”

Last year, a student at Mercer contacted Wofford in order to start a voting initiative with all of the schools in the Southern Conference. Since then, the effort at Wofford has been funded in part by a seed grant from Mercer, according to Lollis, who notes that “they’re kind of sponsoring the whole challenge.” Mercer was not been the only sponsor of the effort on Wofford’s campus though, as many other departments, such as the offices of Diversity and Inclusion, Student Activities and Greek Life contributed financially to the effort. Additional support also came from the Business Office, offices of Student Affairs, Athletics and Marketing and Communications.

In this campus-wife effort to promote voter engagement, Lollis explains, “we hosted several voter registration drives, we held debate watch parties, we held an election night watch party and also marketed ourselves as a tool to students if they needed help at any point in the election process.”

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Lollis’s involvement in politics throughout his life gave him the passion for engaging the student body in the democratic process. His main discontent lies in the fact that so many students do not exercise their right to vote despite the frustration and divide plaguing elections.

Every year, a sponsoring organization releases an National Survey of Learning and Voter Engagement (NSLVE) report to show Wofford how many students voted, both in general and according to other demographic breakdowns like gender, major and age. In receiving the report from 2012 and 2014 and feeling displeased with the results, the Wofford Votes organization decided to make a sustained effort to improve voter turnout in the November 2016 election. The results often depend on the year though, as voter turnout is typically higher during presidential elections. Lollis describes it as “the big ticket item that everybody sees” because it often receives more attention than the other elections, despite the more immediate impact of local elections.

The hope is that all of the efforts made my Wofford Votes and other organizations on campus encouraged people to vote in the recent election and will continue to promote voter turnout in future elections. In his personal reflection on the importance of voting, Lollis specifically wants students to know: “Maybe your one vote isn’t going to change the outcome of the presidential election, but your one vote could change the outcome of who becomes mayor in your small town and that’s much more important, in many cases, than who becomes president.”

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