With local primary elections coming to a close yesterday, and Leon County voters turning out in large numbers, it is no surprise that many among that group were Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) students.
In preparation for Election Day, President Elmira Mangum, Ph.D., stopped by the first “Set Friday” of the year to encourage students to register to vote. Mangum announced that there will be voter registration tables at every “Set Friday” through November. This is all part of the University’s “Strike the Vote” initiative that is focusing on registering every student on campus.
“We want to make sure you understand that you need to exercise your right to vote,” Mangum said. “For many of you, it’s your first opportunity to vote in a presidential election. For some of you, it’s your first opportunity to vote in local elections. The great thing is that FAMU has a precinct right here at the Grand Ballroom. Some of you don’t have to even leave campus.”
Mangum urged the students not only to vote, but to research each candidate prior to making their decision. As educated individuals, Mangum said students carry an added responsibility to cast an informed vote.
“Know your candidates,” Mangum said. “Please read. You’re accomplished students and you have the ability to think critically about issues that will impact you, impact your lives, and impact your education. Don’t forget to pay attention to what’s being said. Analyze it and exercise your right.”
Kiana Robinson, a sophomore pre-physical therapy student, said the combination of a voter registration drive, appearance by vice presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine, and “Set Friday” was a great way to remind students to vote while allowing them to socialize with peers.
“I think this is a pretty cool way to help get people aware of what’s going on,” Robinson said. “This is a very important election year and we need all of the people we can get to really make themselves heard during this election. Hearing directly from the candidates makes it easier to make an educated decision.”
After returning back to Tallahassee to begin fall semester classes, Chase Beasley, president of the FAMU chapter of College Democrats of America, said one of his first priorities was participating in early voting.
“The Black vote is important in every election, and FAMU plays a major role in bringing out Black voters,” Beasley said. “FAMU, being one of the largest public HBCUs in the nation, we have a lot of influence because we have alumni around the world not just in Florida.”
In addition to the University’s “Strike the Vote” initiative, the Student Government Association has launched its “Power of the Vote” campaign that is also dedicated to registering 100 percent of full-time students. The campaign includes voter registration drives, a march to the polls, and an election night watch party.
Anthony Cooper, who will be acting as the director of student lobbying for the Student Government Association (SGA) upon Senate confirmation, said he is excited to put the “Power of the Vote” plan into action and to hopefully inspire students to create similar campaigns.
“I believe this initiative is very important to ensuring students participate in the vital democratic process of voting,” Cooper said. “Our hope is that initiatives like these become a staple at FAMU and in the FAMU community to further voter education and awareness.”