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Ready, set, vote!

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Last updated October 5, 2022

By Tina Underwood, Contributing Writer

With Election Day around the corner, student-led group Dins Vote aims to take the guesswork out of how and where students can exercise their constitutional right.

white woman in front of bookcase

Regan Richardson ’24

Dins Vote wants to rack up as many voters as possible ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm elections. They’ve held half a dozen registration drives since National Voter Registration Day on Sept. 20. “That’s really half the battle,” said Regan Richardson ’24, president of Dins Vote.

Richardson, a mathematics and IT major, said it has never been easier to get on voter rolls with the abundance of websites available. Dins Vote uses Vote.org, a tool that enables registration for your home state. “It’s really simple and you can register in under two minutes,” she said.

Where things get tricky is proving residency.

Registering for the first time in Greenville County requires a copy of a current valid photo ID or a copy of a current utility bill, pay stub, bank statement or other government document that shows your name and Greenville County address. Students can request proof of residency from Furman Enrollment, an option that takes a couple of days.

Registering in time to vote varies state to state. In South Carolina, the critical dates for voter registration are:

  • In-person: Friday, Oct. 7 (Greenville County Square, 301 University Ridge, Suite 1900, Greenville, SC 29601-3668)
  • Online: Sunday, Oct. 9
  • By mail: Tuesday, Oct. 11

Katherine McCann ’23, president of Furman Conservative Society and a biology and Spanish major, applauds Dins Vote for its strategic placement of voter registration tables at Cultural Life Program events, and professors who make time in class for registering.

She said peer influence remains strong at Furman. “Furman has a friendly environment for conversation about voting and politics, so it feels safe to talk about registering to vote, no matter what party you side with.”

Next to ferreting out the unregistered, Richardson said the next hurdle is getting students to the polls on Election Day.

For those already registered in their home states, knowing when to request an absentee ballot is essential. As expected, deadlines vary according to state. Vote.org has this information in addition to dates related to early voting and availability of ballot drop boxes. Other useful websites include the South Carolina Election Commission at https://scvotes.gov/ and Furman’s James B. Duke Library.

Communication studies and politics and international affairs major Thomas Barrington ’24, Furman College Democrats president, advises students to check registration status before heading to the polls on Election Day. At press time, voting precincts for Furman students had not been announced.

Overall, Richardson said the mechanics of voting as a student are much easier than in recent years when Furman students were not allowed to register in Greenville County until they slogged through a supplemental form containing 11 questions, some of them viewed as invasive. Three Furman students brought a lawsuit against the county in 2016 to have the questionnaire removed, and they won it – catalyzing Dins Vote.

Richardson said the wish list for Dins Vote includes an on-campus precinct. To further encourage voter turnout, she’d like to see Furman administration make Election Day a class-free occasion. More transparency in the process for proving residency would also be welcome, she added.

Ultimately, Richardson hopes participation on Nov. 8 will crush Furman’s midterm voting rate of 21.7% in 2018. “Ideally, we’d like to hit somewhere in the 35-40% range, which would put us on par with the average voter rate of college students for midterm elections,” she said.

Last updated October 5, 2022
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Clinton Colmenares
Director of News and Media Strategy