Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett visited Tech on Monday, Sept. 13 and spoke to members of the Student Government Association regarding the importance of the vote.
Hargett’s meeting with SGA followed the Voter Registration Tailgate that was held on Sept. 11 outside of Tucker Stadium. SGA teamed up with the Secretary of State’s office to raise awareness for Voter Registration Month.
A concern that Hargett expressed was the low voter turnout of young adults in Tennessee.
“65-[year-olds] and up has the highest voter turnout. You know who has the worst voter turnout? 18 to 25. So, get out there and make your voice heard,” he said.
43% of 18-29 year-olds in Tennessee voted during the November 2020 presidential election, according to research from the Center of Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.
Most students don’t get registered to vote, Hargett said. If they are registered, they don’t go out and vote.
Hargett advised SGA that they should convince students to register to vote through the authority they have as student leaders.
“People are not going to go register and vote because the Secretary of State asked them to, but they will if their fraternity brothers, sorority sisters, somebody in student government they voted for and so on [ask them to],” Hargett said. “Use your spheres of influence and encourage others to do the same process.”
When asked by a member of SGA about other ways younger people can be enticed to vote, Hargett responded that the Secretary of State’s office tries to persuade people through social media and their program Your Vote Matters.
Student leaders are also used as channels for distributing voter information. “The one thing we try to do as well is make sure we get student leaders … the ability to push messages out and help people understand when voting registration deadlines are, when early voting starts, when early voting ends, when election day is, what the hours of operation are,” Hargett said.
Hargett is convinced that the future of the state and of the nation has never been brighter. He hopes that with the help of SGA, more people will vote for the next election. “I’m counting on you and your leadership and that you will inspire others by your example,” he said. “I look forward to spending more and more time in Cookeville to help with your efforts as well.”
For more information on how to register to vote, visit the Secretary of State’s website, https://sos.tn.gov/products/elections/register-vote