On Friday, Sept. 17, Mercer University hosted its first-ever Turn Out to Vote concert, purposed to promote civic engagement within the Mercer University student body and in the community at large. The concert took place in Mercer Village and was free and open to the community, drawing in a large crowd from around the Middle Georgia area.
The concert, which was headlined by popular Nashville based singer-songwriter Ben Rector and featured Macon natives Good Night Alive!, was a joint effort among TurboVote, College Hill Alliance, the Mercer University Student Government Association, the Middle Georgia State College Student Government Organization, the Wesleyan College Campus Activity Board, Mercer University’s Quadworks and the Mercer Student Bar Association.
Students from various political organizations on campus at Mercer set up tables with laptops to encourage students who had not yet registered to vote to do so.
“It’s important that we vote. Macon has become our home. For us to be engaged in the community shows our investment in what happens around us,” said Mercer College Republicans President Abby Hundley, who manned a table with other members of the student organization.
Freshman Emily Thompson also volunteered at the event. “It’s a fun night to come out and celebrate this great freedom we have in America,” Thompson said. “I was raised in a dense military background, so I’ve always known the importance of voting. You get to have a say. People died for that right.”
Tables were crowded with students, some registering for the first time and others simply making updates to their registrations. Students were also encouraged to sign up for TurboVote, an application designed by the bipartisan non-profit organization Democracy Works, which provides students with text and email reminders about upcoming local, state and national elections and makes necessary forms for absentee ballots and registration updates more easily accessible.
“We aren’t advertising or promoting any certain ideology,” remarked Precious Patterson, a senior student at Mercer and President of Mercer University’s Mercerians for Liberty. “We just want people to exercise their right to vote. People get so discouraged from voting because they don’t realize how important their voice really is.”
By the beginning of the concert, student volunteers had registered over 300 new students to vote, a number which continued to increase over the course of the night. “The concert provided an incentive for people to come out,” said Abby Hundley, “and that gives us a chance to talk to them about the importance of civic engagement and voting.”
“It affects your life in every kind of way. Whether you like it or not, you are a member of society, and the society in which you live influences you,” said Precious Patterson. “People are never happy about the way things are going but don’t realize how a small collective effort can make changes in our society.”
Mercer’s Turn Out to Vote concert brought together hundreds of students from different colleges in Middle Georgia in an attempt to remind them of the power of their unique voice.