‘It’s a privilege and a responsibility,’ guest speaker says
First-year seminar classes at Seward County Community College are designed to provide incoming freshmen with a wide-ranging introduction to the secrets of college success, from how to log in to the campus learning system to how students can help prevent alcohol abuse and sexual assault.
This fall, Dean of Student Success Annette Hackbarth-Onson added a timely component: how to vote.
“For National Voter Registration Day, which is Sept. 22, I wanted to prepare an introduction to voting,” she said. With help from SCCC Trustee Kay Burtzloff, an active member of the League of Women Voters, Hackbarth-Onson prepared a custom lesson for SCCC Saints.
“Young people are a powerful voting bloc in the nation, but they sometimes fail to vote because they don’t know how, or where to go,” Hackbarth-Onson said.
“There’s a perception that this generation doesn’t care, but that is not what I have observed. The young people I see every day on campus are caring and committed, and have deep convictions.”
In her presentation, Burtzloff showed an increase, overall, in young voter participation, and encouraged students to show up at the polls.
“Voting is not just a privilege, it is a responsibility,” she pointed out. “There are many people, some of whom you might know and care about, who cannot vote. You owe it to them to cast a ballot.”
Burtzloff provided details about how to register, “in the way that many of us prefer — on our cell phones,” she said, along with more traditional methods: checking in at the Seward County Clerk’s office, calling or logging on to the state office, or even doing so at the time of obtaining a driver’s license.
“If you have gotten married, changed your name, or moved to a new address since the last election, you need to update that information as well,” she noted.
Hackbarth-Onson hopes the class presentation will cause a ripple effect on campus, where several voter registration drives have already taken place. If students want one-on-one help to register, she added, “anyone in the Student Support Services area will be glad to help.” Another option is the Friday “drive-through” registration service provided by the Liberal Area Coalition for Families at 21 Village Plaza. From 9 to 11 a.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. each Friday through Oct. 9, the LACF will offer personal help.