It’s 2019, and the Municipal Elections are around the corner. The energy around a local election is not often as infectious as that of a presidential or a midterm. I am one of those people with clipboards on campus that registers students to vote. I know the question, “Are you registered to vote at your current address?” can become obnoxious after the 100th time, but with the election so close and the troubled history of our right to vote on campus, we felt we needed to write this.
App State has always been a battleground for student voting rights. While it may seem outdated to many students on our campus today, it was just five short years ago that we received national press when our site was moved off-campus in an attempt to prevent students from voting. The Watauga County Voting Rights Task Force battled in local and North Carolina state courts, which led to a showdown in the North Carolina Supreme Court, where we won the site in the Plemmons Student Union back.
Millions of dollars were spent on attorneys and court costs just to make sure that our right to vote was recognized and protected. Battles with a corrupt board of elections who looked at politically engaged students as a messy problem to be solved. If you were to tell students five years ago that you could walk into the Student Union and vote, it would have been unbelievable.
The fight continues — just this year, student groups had to push the chancellor and board of governors to gain the right to use our App Cards as a valid ID when going to vote, something that directly enfranchised groups of students who wouldn’t have voted otherwise. Appalachian State is one of five universities where we have the right to vote using our student IDs.
Every time a student votes in the Plemmons Student Union, it makes it harder for those against our right to vote to argue against an easy and accessible on-site campus. So please, get informed, and vote this year in the student union, because this year, we can.
Dalton George is the Canvassing Director for the Watauga County Democratic Party and a junior economics major.
Emma Strange is the Senior Deputy Canvassing Director for the Watauga County Democratic Party and a senior anthropology major.