New student organization gets out the vote
3 mins read

New student organization gets out the vote

For students who want to vote but aren’t registered, Get Out the Yote — a new organization on campus — seeks to assist students wishing to get involved in the democratic process.

Addison Miller, Get Out the Yote’s director, said he conceived the organization when he met Ailee Johns, the Democratic candidate for District 17, in the summer. Miller said he and Johns believe young voters are underestimated, and that voter registration drives are not targeting the audience they need to target.

Miller said he originally planned for the organization to be a nonprofit, but decided instead to found it as a student organization at USD to educate students on their rights and provide them opportunities to register to vote.

“Everyone likes to say that the youth doesn’t vote,” Miller said. “For people to say the young don’t vote is kind of giving up on them before they even get the chance to vote.”

Most South Dakota students don’t vote in elections when they’re at college because they don’t know they’re able to vote when they’re away from home, Johns said.

“People miss the elections because they’re at college in November, so why not bring the election to them by having them register here?” Johns said. “Then they can really be involved in this community, voting not just in the presidential election but down-ballot races that will really affect them.”

Get Out the Yote’s main goal, Miller said, is to get USD students registered to vote, as well as provide them with education on how to receive absentee ballots if they are away from home.

Johns said she uses her connections to Vermillion to help Get Out the Yote spread its message. The organization has already begun operating at Vermillion’s Thursdays on the Platz.

Get Out the Yote’s biggest planned event is a downtown voter registration drive from September 7-11. Students will be able to drop off voter registration forms on specific days at certain businesses — including The Bean, Leo’s Sports Bar and Grill, R-Pizza and Hartford Steakhouse — and receive deals on menu items. Miller will then deliver the forms to the Clay County courthouse for processing.

“I think incentivizing voter registration is something that needs to happen. You can’t pay people to vote, but you can help them register,” Miller said.

Johns is currently working to get everyone in Tau Kappa Epsilon and Delta Tau Delta registered to vote. In addition, she is in contact with the university’s athletics department to try and get all USD athletes registered.

USD’s COVID-19 prevention guidelines have made reaching large groups of students difficult, Miller said.

“We were going to put voter registration forms into the move-in bags, and we were told we couldn’t put papers in move-in bags this year because of COVID-19. Now I have 2200 voter registration forms sitting at my house,” Miller said. “It’s been a little bumpy. I’m not worried, we’re going to get these forms out there.”

Miller said the effort to get people registered to vote is a civic duty.

“I don’t care who (students) are voting for… my problem is I want young people to have a fair say in their politics,” Miller said.