OU’s Student Government Association voted to install a polling location on campus and elected students to hold SGA positions in its Sept. 8 meeting.
OU saw a 7.5 percent increase in undergraduate voter participation from the 2012 to 2016 presidential election, as 48 percent of OU’s undergraduate students voted in 2016, according to Jayke Flaggert, a University College representative and international business and marketing sophomore. Flaggert said this increase inspired him to author the “No Voter Left Behind” bill in support of a polling site closer to campus.
“Currently, the closest voting site to campus is three miles from the residence halls,” Flaggert said. “(Statistics) are demonstrating an increase in demand for early voting among students on our campus — so this 'No Voter Left Behind' resolution is really just trying to make voting accessible.”
SGA is considering the Lloyd Noble Center, McCasland Field House, College of Law and Oklahoma Memorial Union as possible locations. Although it voted in support of a polling station, it now awaits the approval of the Cleveland County Election Board.
“It's important that students have access to early voting sites on campus … (that allow for) social distancing,” congress chair and criminology senior Savanah Patterson said. “It's really important, especially during a presidential election, that we are encouraged to vote in a way that is convenient and accessible.”
The congress passed the bill with a roll-call vote of 35-0-0.
SGA members also voted in candidates to various positions, including the It’s On Us task force chair — a position focused on informing students about sexual assault and affirmative consent — supreme court justices and the SGA Election Chair. Patterson said she is very confident in the new appointees’ ability to serve the student body in their capacities.
All appointments were passed unanimously.
Patterson said after the meeting that, ultimately, SGA’s top priority this semester will be serving OU’s student body to the best of its ability despite limited resources and access during the pandemic.
“I really hope we can make campus a more inclusive place for not only people from marginalized communities but also for the first-year students,” Patterson said. “This is their first time on a college campus, and we really want to make sure they have a quality college experience.”