UISG raves for student voter registration 

The UISG and Hawkeye Caucus held a voter registration spree to get more students involved in local government.


The Daily Iowan; Photos by Shiva

The Hawkeye Caucus speaks to students on the T. Anne Cleary Walkway on Tuesday, September 26, 2017. UISG hosted tables where students could register to vote.


Tuesday was National Voter Registration Day, and for the University of Iowa Student Government, this meant getting the word out about voting.

UISG and the Hawkeye Caucus hosted a voter-registration event on the T. Anne Cleary Walkway from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to increase the number of student voters in Iowa City. They brandished clipboards and forms, urging students to sign up in time to participate in the Iowa City City Council election, which come up on Nov. 6.

As of late 2016, the UI enrollment was 33,334 students, which makes up more than 40 percent of Iowa City. In local elections, voter turnout for regular citizens is around 20 percent, but for students, that number goes down to 10-15 percent, Jenna Pokorny said.

She is the chair of the UISG Government Relations Committee, and she is focused on showing students the importance of local government and how it affects them.

“I think that local politics affect students more than overall politics,” she said. “The people who you vote for in state elections are the people who decide what appropriations go to the University of Iowa, which then decides how high your tuition is. City councilors decide the 21 and under bar ordinance, they decide parking tickets and meters … so I think it’s really important that we get involved in that.”

One of the reasons that the voter turnout is so low is the lack of attention that local governments get, said UISG Sen. Austin Wu.

“I think it’s the information problem; if you get your news from national agencies, obviously they’re not going to talk about City Council elections, it’s just not as visible,” Wu said.

City Council elections do get covered by local sources, but the majority of students prefer national news to local, because they want to stay up-to-date on major issues, Wu said. He said the act of registering and voting can also be time consuming and confusing, especially for people who don’t really keep up with politics.

“It takes time, and a lot of people aren’t really into politics, and sometimes it can seem kind of low level, especially at the local level, but it’s very important and affects what students are doing,” said UI sophomore Austin Carter.

Carter wasn’t registered in Iowa City in 2016, because he went home to vote in the general election, but he registered this year to participate in the City Council elections.

“I think it’s important, especially for local legislation and for city ordinances and stuff like that, to get involved in that kind of stuff, because it affects your daily life, and it’s also important to get that practice in with how to deal with politics that you’ll need when you’re older,” he said.

There are many different avenues to learning about local government, especially with the City Council elections nearing. UISG is creating a series of graphics about voting and local government as a part of its social-media campaign, and it will host a town hall on Oct. 17 for the candidates. Local news sources are also a good resource, and candidates have Facebook pages and websites for their campaigns, Wu said.

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