Rock the vote on campus


This election year, UIC Votes.

The UIC Votes campaign provides students with opportunities to register to vote and resources to make informed decisions about candidates.

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 27, UIC will host a Rock the Vote event in the Quad. The event gives students the opportunity to register to vote, find their Illinois polling location and submit absentee ballot applications.

“We’re trying to create a lifelong habit,” said Spencer Long, associate director for Student Leadership Development and Volunteer Services. “What a lot of people forget is that for a majority of our undergraduate students, this is the first time any of them are going to vote in a presidential election.”

The event is just one aspect of the UIC Votes campaign and push to be recognized as a Voter-Friendly Campus. To qualify for the distinction, universities must put together a civic engagement plan, then execute and evaluate plan. The mission of the Voter-Friendly Campus designation is to help students overcome barriers to participating in the political process.

Although statistics aren’t the essential factor in becoming a Voter-Friendly Campus, a bump in eligible UIC students that vote would be a step in the right direction. During the 2012 presidential election, 41 percent of eligible students went to the polls.

“Our goal is to get to 50 percent,” Long said. “I’d be happy if we had 100 percent, but if we get to 50 percent of our eligible students then that’s a huge win.”

Rock the Vote is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that drives youth to the polls. Since 1990, the organization has registered millions of voters by enlisting the help of popular celebrities and volunteers.

“[Rock the Vote] has that type of weight in the media and with things that students are actually interested in,” said Asha Binbek, a UIC student who is one of the event coordinators. “If you have your favorite celebrity telling you to vote, hopefully that will kind of encourage you.”

Other event highlights include a “Mock the Vote” booth, which gives students the chance to vote for a cause they care about, and an “I Vote Because” table, where students can write why they vote and take a picture for UIC’s Student Leadership Development and Volunteer Services Facebook page.

UIC’s event combines informative stations with a fun environment, a staple of Rock the Vote events.

“I hope [students] have fun,” Binbek said. “I’m trying to shape it in a way where they all have fun doing these things, but also they’ll be getting more informed about how to vote.

Students who attend the event can also engage on Twitter by using #UICVotes.

UIC will host a variety of civic engagement events to encourage students to learn about the issues and vote in the Nov. 8 elections. Events include:

Voter registration table
Sept. 22, 11 a.m.–1 p.m.

“Red, White and Bowl” presidential debate watch party
Sept. 26, 8–10 p.m.
The Alley, Student Center East

Rock the Vote
Sept. 27, 11 a.m.–1 p.m. Quad

Voter registration table
Sept 29, 11 a.m.–1 p.m.
Student Services Building

Vice presidential
candidate debate watch party

Oct. 4, 8–9:30 p.m.
Inner Circle, Student Center East

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