The Voter Friendly Campus Designation Program named Kennesaw State “Voter Friendly” on March 13 for the university’s efforts to engage students in political processes.
The “Voter Friendly” designation refers to how well KSU has committed to and implemented a plan to get students involved in the democratic process. The university’s plan, which began in 2017, involves a partnership with TurboVote, a program designed to make the democratic process easier.
Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Dr. Michael Sanseviro said KSU was also able to work with Cobb County’s Board of Elections and Registration to provide proper formatting for KSU’s on-campus addresses. Rather than automatically being disqualified, student forms with incorrect address formats are corrected.
A major issue that KSU students encounter is the number of registration drives on campus. Sanseviro said many students will unknowingly disqualify themselves from voting in Cobb County by filling out paper forms for registration drive organizers to submit.
Georgia legislation, however, disqualifies any physical registration forms mailed by someone other than that individual or a verified registrar, according to Rule 183-1-6-.02. Because of this issue, KSU has people on campus, such as Sanseviro, who can legally submit such paper forms for students.
“It’s painful every election day when a student who really wants to vote comes to me and we go over their information and I have to tell them they aren’t able to vote,” Sanseviro said.
Sanseviro also said a less pressing issue that KSU has been working against is students being turned away at polling places. KSU IDs are valid forms of identification for polling, but sometimes volunteers are unaware and will turn students away at the door.
To combat the issue, Sanseviro works with the county to ensure polling volunteers know they can accept student IDs.
Sanseviro said, by federal mandate, all public universities must recognize Constitution Day. KSU extends recognition to over a week by opening official voter registration drives.
KSU pushes students to register to vote so that they can take part in November elections, as well as being registered for their local elections.
“We want every student to know the power of their vote,” Sanseviro said. “We don’t mind how they vote, just that they do. But for it to be effective, the push needs to be a part of the culture, with enough regularity students recognize what’s happening. KSU has a lot of students, and 36,000 students can be a powerful voting block.”
KSU students can make a TurboVote account that will notify them to every election via text or email, as well as streamlining the process for acquiring an absentee ballot and viewing their polling location.
The Voter Friendly Campus designation program was started in 2016. The goal of the program is to help university administrators, faculty, and student organizations in civic and electoral engagement, according to their website.