Educate the Vote campaign kicks off at Jefferson State

The Educate the Vote table in the lobby of Jefferson State in Clanton. Here students can find plenty of information preparing them to vote on Nov. 8.(Photo by Steven Calhoun)

The Educate the Vote table in the lobby of Jefferson State in Clanton. Here students can find plenty of information preparing them to vote on Nov. 8.(Photo by Steven Calhoun)

By STEVEN CALHOUN/Staff Writer

Jefferson State Community College is informing its students about the voting process this week during its “Educate the Vote” campaign.

An informational table is set up in the lobby of the building with copies of amendments, explanations of elected offices, links to educational resources and mock ballots.

In discussions surrounding the campaign, both sides of issues that will be on the ballot are represented, according to David McRae, a history professor at JSCC.

McRae was inspired to create “Educate the Vote” when a student asked him about the Amendment 14 billboards around town that encourage voters to vote “yes.” The student claimed not to know what Amendment 14 was.

“Tylor … asked specifics about the election, he was very interested … and I mentioned the ballot and how complicated it is and how much was on there,” said McRae. “He basically said that … he was just learning about that coming up close to Election Day.”

“I’ve never really been taught anything [about the electoral system] in school … anything I knew, I had always just educated myself on,” said Tylor Curtis, a student of McRae. “This is my first time voting, and I had been focusing so much on presidents and vice presidents that I hadn’t even looked at the ballot to know that we were voting on amendments.”

McRae had more students come up in the following days to ask him about Amendment 14. He was inspired by their desire to be educated.

“I want to know what I’m voting [on], so I don’t vote for something that affects me or doesn’t affect me [well],” said Curtis.

McRae thought if a student as good as Curtis was only learning about the election just before Election Day, something needed to be done to inform students.

“I don’t think young voters or even older voters are [prepared]. I think a large part of our populous is not prepared, and I don’t think it’s necessarily their fault; they just don’t know where to go to find information,” said McRae.

McRae suggested spending some class time with students to prepare students for the next election. Having discussions in class and allowing students to ask questions would open up a dialogue, according to McRae. He suggested staying nonpartisan as an educator, but allowing students to respectfully defend their views in class to their peers.

McRae also researched good sources for election information to share with people. He recommended Alabamavotes.gov for general information like polling places and sample ballots. He also recommended Rockthevote.com or other nonpartisan, non-profit groups for information about amendments.

Use these resources to help prepare yourself and others to vote on Nov. 8.

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