The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

Political organizations on campus encourage students to vote


On Nov. 6, the United States midterm elections will be the first opportunity for many Vanderbilt students to vote. As this date approaches, Vanderbilt political organizations such as Vanderbilt College Republicans (VCR) and Vanderbilt College Democrats (VCD) are preparing to engage campus in a discussion around the midterms and provide students with information on voter and absentee ballot registration.

Voter absentee ballot registration is different in every state. In many states, the deadline for registering to vote falls in the first week of October.

According to Will Newell, Vanderbilt College Democrat’s Vice President of Outreach, VCD will be partnering with other Vanderbilt political organizations to hold voter registration drives in the next month in the hopes that every eligible student will register to vote.

“We have collected data on every single state’s voter registration deadline, the absentee ballot deadline, where you need to go to apply for an absentee ballot, and also websites and materials on how to register in each state,” Newell said. This spreadsheet can be found here.

According to Shiva Sachdeva, the President of Vanderbilt College Republicans, VCR’s club programming will look different this semester than it usually does, as its student leaders push for education and outreach around the midterms.

According to Sachdeva, VCR hopes to encourage its members to get involved in important Republican campaigns in Nashville and Tennessee, such as Marsha Blackburn’s campaign for US Senate and Bill Lee’s campaign for governor of Tennessee. VCR plans on tabling outside Rand throughout October and giving students the opportunity to register to vote.

“I think the midterms are a really great time for the Vanderbilt community, no matter what side you’re on, to engage with Nashville and Tennessee more so than you usually would,” Sachdeva said.

According to Newell, VCD also has plans to support Democratic campaigns such as Bob Freeman’s campaign for Tennessee House District 56 and Phil Bredesen’s campaign for US Senate. In October, VCD will send groups of its members to canvas for these campaigns.

VCD will be partnering with other Vanderbilt political organizations such as the Undergraduate Political Science Association and the Multicultural Leadership Council in the hopes of registering as many Vanderbilt students as possible.

“We’re going to be partnering with organizations who’ve got other voter registration drives,” Newell said. “Hopefully with all those organizations doing their own thing, you’re going to end up with just about everyone registered.”

In addition, VCR and VCD will hold a debate in early October. According to Newell, VCD hopes to get people thinking about politics in order to get students engaged right before midterms. While the topic of the debate is not yet finalized, it will likely involve the upcoming midterms.

“At least as my perspective as a Democrat, Americans need to send a message that they are not okay with the way the country has been going in the past year or so,” Newell said. “The best I can say is that voting in 2018 is far more important than it has been in years past. Students need to make their voices heard, because traditionally they have not done so, and the result is their interests are not represented in government.”

Both Newell and Sachdeva emphasized the importance of voting in the midterm elections.

“From a very philosophical standpoint, as an American, it’s our civic duty to vote,” Sachdeva said. “You have this privilege that so many people don’t have, so from that standpoint, you should vote. From a more tangible standpoint, these issues do affect you. As we saw in recent elections, a lot of statistics and predictions are completely wrong. Just because you think someone’s going to win doesn’t mean they’re going to.”

While Tennessee is historically a strongly conservative state, the 2018 midterms will present an extremely competitive race between the two parties. Vanderbilt students have the opportunity to register to vote in Tennessee, even if coming from out-of-state.

“If you have residence in Tennessee, even if you’re living on a college campus, you can switch your registration to Tennessee,” Newell said. “And we want some people to do that, especially if they’re from less competitive states, because Tennessee has a super competitive Senate election right now.”

Whatever side of the political spectrum that students may fall on, they have the opportunity to engage in the upcoming midterms by participating in VCR and VCD events, as well as other political organizations on campus. In addition, students can volunteer or intern for local or state campaigns in Tennessee. Both VCR and VCD offer opportunities for phone banking and canvassing.

Sachdeva’s hopes for VCR this fall include mobilizing Vanderbilt students and conservatives to become more involved both within the organization and in general for midterm campaigns.

“Whoever wins the Tennessee governor election, especially if you’re a sophomore or freshman, will affect you tangibly in the next two years,” Sachdeva said. “We want to make people aware of the issues at stake.”

While VCR and VCD have different political ideologies, both Sachdeva and Newell hope to increase voter registration and engage political discussion at Vanderbilt.

“VCD and VCR actually have a lot in common when it comes to our passion for politics and policy,” Newell said. “We want people to see these issues, see developments that happen in the world, form a stance on them, and get involved in having an influence on them.”

“We’re in a state where every vote does matter,” Sachdeva said. “Even if it’s a ten-minute inconvenience to you, definitely vote.”

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About the Contributor
Caitlin David, Former Staff Writer

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