UW-Superior student interns create Jackets Vote to encourage their peers to vote
Amber Heidenreich and Augusto Vladusic, student interns for the Link Center at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, have been gaining valuable experience while working to equip and encourage students to vote. The internships were made possible by a generous gift from the Menard Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovations at UW-Stout.
Heidenreich and Vladusic have been working for the past three months on Jackets Vote, a non-partisan initiative to increase student engagement in elections, a stated goal within the university’s 2018 Civic Action Plan.
Collaborating with several UWS departments and external organizations, such as Campus Vote Project, TurboVote, ALL-IN Democracy Challenge, and Campus Compact, the Jackets Vote team has developed a cohesive, cross-campus voter engagement action plan. Most notably, this includes the creation of the Jackets Vote website (uwsuper.edu/vote) where students can easily gain access to online voter registration tools, answers to frequently asked questions regarding voting and Jackets Vote events and announcements.
“I feel that it is extremely important for students to vote,” said Heidenreich. “Our elected officials have become accustomed to relying on older generations to turn out to vote, so their main policies and campaign strategies are focused around their issues – not ours as students or young professionals. We need to become more engaged to make sure our needs are met, our voices are heard, and our impact is made.”
The Jackets Vote team has hosted several events, including distributing free Jackets Vote masks and voter education materials, and a Virtual Presidential Debate Watch Party. The Jackets Vote team has also assisted students with registering to vote with TurboVote, requesting absentee ballots and answering questions. In the upcoming weeks, the Jackets Vote team will continue to distribute masks and voting information and has another virtual presidential debate watch party planned for students.
Jackets Vote has also initiated the Who is Superior: Jackets Vote Challenge. Students are encouraged to sign up for this challenge with either their athletic team, student organization, or as an individual. Teams and individuals win prizes by earning points for participating in various Jackets Vote events and activities.
“UW-Superior is deeply committed to nonpartisan voter engagement and promoting the discussion, study and defense of civil liberties and democratic values,” said Katelyn Bauman, coordinator of academic service-learning. “I am thrilled by our interns’ hard work and dedication to ensuring every student’s voice counts. In 2018, only 47.9% of eligible UWS students voted. We are hoping to increase this percentage through innovative strategies this year.”