With midterm elections quickly approaching, the Southern Conference (SoCon) voting competition returns to Mercer University’s campus.
The SoCon competition focuses on registering students to vote in national elections.
SoCon is a collegiate sports conference focused on “facilitating intercollegiate sports competition” as well as to “promote a proper balance between academics and athletics,” according to the SoCon website.
The conference created the voting competition “to expand voter participation among college students by fostering excitement and competition nationwide.”
The competition includes nine other schools, including The Citadel, Furman University and Samford University.
According to a Mercer University news release, Mercer took home the trophy after winning the 2016 conference championship for highest student voter participation.
To participate, Mercer submitted an action plan to the competition detailing the strategic measures planned to increase registration number on campus. This plan was created in conjunction with campus service organization Mobilize Mercer.
One goal of Mobilize Mercer is to increase Mercer’s midterm voter registration from 68.9 percent to the 80 percent of students who were registered for the 2016 presidential election.
Mobilize Mercer is “a nonpartisan voting initiative that is focused on raising voter awareness and participation on Mercer’s Macon campus,” according to the Campus Life website.
“The action plan details democratic engagement goals, addresses potential barriers to democratic engagement, and finally outlines the programmatic plans for Mobilize Mercer,” Lauren Shinholster, coordinator of community engagement and Mobilize Mercer advisor, said in an email.
The action plan includes a partnership with Mercer’s Office of Residence Life so students can register on move-in day. Professors are also encouraged to promote voter registration in classrooms.
“A new voter registration idea is to create competitions between different groups on campus (athletic groups, dorms, etc.),” Alexandra Kirschbaum, co-chair of Mobilize Mercer, said in an email.
The organization also plans to have a presence at Bear Fair and National Register to Vote Day as well as in the Connell Student Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesdays.
“We hope students develop a deepened appreciation for this democratic system as well as recognize that voting is one of the easiest ways to advocate for issues and ideas that are important to them,” Kirschbaum said.