We, Ryan Stanley, Alex Johnson, and Ella Burrows, as student leaders at Fort Hays State University, vigorously support the addition of a polling location on the campus of our university and the American Democracy Project’s efforts to accomplish this. In addition to enhancing civic and voter engagement among students and faculty, having a polling place on campus is crucial to execute FHSU’s mission of producing graduates who are equipped with the skills necessary to become global citizen leaders.
It would make sense that on a college campus, where the majority of students are 18-24 years old, this age group would have the highest voter turnout rate. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. Data from the United States Census Bureau found that in the 2020 election, national voter turnout was lowest among voters ages 18-24. This national issue is prevalent even in Hays, America. In fact, the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) 2020 FHSU Student Voting Rates Report found that at FHSU, the age group with the highest voter turnout was voters who are over the age of 50. Although FHSU has a student voting rate of 62.4%, it is imperative that we take concrete measures to facilitate student voting and combat low voter turnout among our students through strategic initiatives such as bringing a polling place to campus.
Among the Kansas Board of Regents institutions, FHSU is one of the only universities to not have a campus polling location. The University of Kansas, Pittsburg State University, and Wichita State University each offer at least one on-campus polling location for students, faculty, and community members. Moreover, in addition to fostering civic and voter engagement on our campus, an on-campus polling location would bring FHSU up to par with other KBOR institutions.
The mission of FHSU is clear: to produce graduates who will be global citizen leaders; graduates who are ready to be active, engaged members of their community. In order to carry out this purpose not just in word but in deed, we must provide our students with ample opportunities to become civically engaged. Having a polling location at their fingertips would do just that. As student leaders at Fort Hays State University, both within the Student Government Association and beyond, we express our steadfast commitment to and fervent support for the addition of a polling place on our campus.
Ryan Stanley, 2022-2023 Student Body President
Ella Burrows, 2023-2024 Student Body President, FHSU Young Democrats of America Member
Alex Johnson, SGA Senator, FHSU College Republicans President/Chair