A group of students walked from Centennial Lawn to the voting station at Hub City Masonic Lodge Nov. 6 at 5 p.m. to vote during the midterm elections.
The event called “Walk to the Polls” was organized by junior communication major Brandon Rue. He said that many students would have had to wait until dark to vote and that he wanted to make sure everyone got the voting station and back safely.
“We want to make sure we have our say and that we have our needs met,” Rue said. “It is important to vote because it is our voice—our right.”
Rue said because college students make up one of the largest voting blocks in the country it is important for as many students to make their voices heard.
He said students should vote in any elections possible because the officials voted into office affect not just themselves but everyone in the country.
Rue and his student organization, Elevate, partnered with Common Cause, a non-partisan organization that created a position on campuses which advocate for voting.
Before the walk started, Rue and others assisted giving away free stickers, buttons and voting pamphlets for those who have not made a decision yet. After the group voted, they had a gathering at the Thad Cochran Center where food and drinks were served.
Among the students were senior English major Emily Rasch and junior social work major Kelly Shoemake who said they came to the event specifically to support Rue.
Shoemake said she is good friends with Rue and that they have worked together on many projects. She said that the precinct the walk was at was not her own, but she wanted to come to see students of all different backgrounds, ethnicities and colors come together to vote.
“The young vote is so important especially in this election,” Shoemake said, “Millennials and Generation Z make up together the largest population that is eligible to vote. However, they don’t typically show up. But today it looks like we are starting a change—a butterfly effect.”
According to the United States Elections Project, Mississippi had a 40.7 percent voter turnout in 2018 as opposed to the 36.7 percent turnout in 2014.
Rasch similarly had already voted but felt it was nice to see everyone vote. “I voted this morning, but I wanted to walk with these people because I wanted to see the reaction of people voting for the first time or showing that our Southern Miss community is so much more than what we guess,” Rasch said.
Rasch said it was exciting to see young students who were first time because they glowed with pride. “The look on their face is like, ‘Oh yeah, I really made a difference in my community,’” Rasch said. “That is really powerful.”