MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – During the 2020 elections, West Virginia University will have live polling stations on its campus.
The effort is a collaboration between the state and the WVU and the goal is to make voting more convenient for students and to increase student voter turnout as a result. Hunter Hardway a freshman who is helping lead the voter registration drive said the polling site will be in the Mountainlair, a heavily traveled, conveniently located, building on the campus.
Currently, Hardway said around 43 percent of students are registered to vote but added that he wants to see that change. He said he wants to set up a booth in the Mountainlair where they can register students to vote in West Virginia.
“I want WVU to become a model institution for voter registration,” Hardway said. “Currently the model around the nation is around 50 percent, I’d love to see WVU get all the way up to 70 percent voting so that we can become a beacon for other universities to follow in our wake about how you get students to vote and why it’s important for college-age students.”
During his first semester, Hardway said he realized that there needed to be more civic engagement among students so he went to the Center for Service and Learning where he learned about the social action project idea. The process, he said, involved a lot of research, writing problem statements and planning ahead.
However, now that the initial phase is complete, they can begin to implement everything. For example, they will be running a voter registration drive in February, in conjunction with the Monongalia Co. Clerk’s Office. Prior to that, there will be a kickoff event with the Center for Black Culture and Research.
Hardway said they will encourage students to register to vote in West Virginia, so they can take advantage of the new polling site. If students do not register in the state they cannot vote here.
Civic engagement is something that is near and dear to Hardway’s heart and he wants to share that passion with other students.
“Recently I was talking to one of the Morgantown City councilmen and we were talking about why local elections matter,” he said. “And it’s just these trickle-down effects where your vote in a small election will lead to pressure on your state. Your pressure on your state leads to pressure on your federal government to create change on a mass scale. These start small and go up so your vote does matter in all these events.”