(JACKSON, Miss.) — Jackson State University’s Student Government Association, campus partners and other supporters signed up students during a “Tiger Voter Registration Drive” on Thursday, Oct. 1, at the Student Center and on Sunday, Sept. 27, at the Lee E. Williams Athletics and Assembly Center. As well, some of those students accepted free COVID-19 tests at the JSU Health Center, and, fortunately, all results were negative.
Mississippi voters have until Oct. 5 to qualify to vote on Election Day, which is Nov. 3. So, campus partners canvassed residence halls to urge students to sign up before the deadline. About 50 people registered each day for a total of 100.
Scottie Willis, coordinator of Student Leadership in the Division of Student Affairs, commended the SGA for spearheading the event and involving other organizations.
“The Tiger Voter Registration Drive went very well,” Willis said. After Day 1, he said,“We had at least 50 students to register. Eighteen students participated in free COVID-19 tests administered by the Health Center, with all negative results. Those who registered received a Tigers Vote T-shirt, and President (Thomas) Hudson was present to observe the drive and greet the students.”
SGA President Jacori Daniels said it was important to rally everyone and help make a last-ditch effort to register people to vote.
Daniels said, “We’re all working toward a common goal, and that is to get people to the polls regardless of who they choose. Cast your ballot because then you’re making a change by exercising your right to vote. So, we’re having these drives and educating people at the same time. We want voters to have the same energy for all city and local elections, not just the presidential election. The important thing is making sure we elect the right person.”
Because the window is narrowing for voter registration, Daniels said, “We’ve been doing drives across campus heavily. Now, we’re trying to tie up loose ends. We figured we could combine voting with what’s going on in the world today with COVID-19. So, we talked to Student Life, and we arranged to help people get rapid tests for the disease. The tests and registration drive combined were a great incentive.”
Daniels also praised campus groups and other supporters for their help. He said these partners were the National Panhellenic Conference, Men of Excellence, the Jackson Alumni Association, the Links Inc., the JSU Royal Court, Campus Activities Board, and Thee Blue S.T.R.E.A.K. – a group of freshmen mentors.
The strong show of support for voter registration has inspired Daniels, who bemoaned a year of setbacks due to the novel coronavirus. However, despite disruptions in traditions such as Homecoming and other activities, Daniels said he believes student morale and the campus vibe are being restored, especially now with the acquisition of new head football Coach Prime (Deion Sanders).
“We’ve been looking for ways and different types of events to bring people together in an environment of social distancing. All of these connected efforts allow us to do something positive in the community,” Daniels said.
Campus Activities Board President Justin Standifer said, “The voter registration drive was a great opportunity for students to see how serious their peers are about voting and learn the importance of voting. With these opportunities, it also allows students to see firsthand their voices can be heard.”
In addition, Standifer said, “We are the future, and we have a say in things that affect us directly and indirectly. Many of us are Millennials, so a lot of us weren’t registered. Now, we have an opportunity to exercise our rights.”
Although the SGA has been targeting students on campus – especially the 500-plus freshman class – Daniels said campus fraternities and organizations have ventured into local communities, too. He said they’ve helped inform the public about the importance of voting, registration deadlines and helping residents locate correct precincts ahead of Election Day.
While the deadline for Mississippi voter registration is Oct. 5, this date is also the beginning of National Voter Education Week (Oct. 5-9). During this time, everyone – and especially new voters – can get detailed information and find answers to questions related to casting ballots.