Olympic figure skater urges Simpson students to vote early

INDIANOLA, Iowa — With Election Day less than two weeks away, two-time Olympic medalist Michelle Kwan is still fighting for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton until the end.

Visiting Simpson College on Tuesday, Kwan touted Clinton’s ability to “shatter the glass ceiling” numerous times when she was the first lady of Arkansas, first lady of the United States, a U.S. senator from New York and secretary of state.

“It’s so important for millennials to get out the vote, making sure they know what’s at stake in this election and knowing that Hillary Clinton is the clear choice,” Kwan said. “She’s putting young supporters across the board her top priority. She works for those not just at the top.”

In a recent Simpson College-Red America Blue America Research poll that surveyed voters under 30, Clinton had a commanding 23-point lead over her Republican opponent, Donald Trump, 49 percent to 26 percent.

Kwan’s appearance came on the day the Culver Public Policy Center and Simpson Votes, in partnership with the Warren County auditor, set up an early voting polling place at Simpson College where on-site voter registration was available.

Because of the coincidence, Kwan was rescheduled to appear in a different location on Simpson’s campus which affected the event turnout, said Will Seiler, president of the Simpson College Democrats.

State law requires that electioneers who advocate for or protest a candidate remain 300 feet away from a polling location.

“The idea would have been to hold the event in Kent Campus Center,” he said. “Anytime there’s voting, there can’t be any sort of protests or partisan rallies or events within 300 feet of the voting station, so we couldn’t vote with picketers right outside the door.”

Despite significantly low turnout, Kwan instead held a round table-style discussion with students, talking about what matters most to them: the cost of higher education.

“What really impacts young voters and the issues millennials care about is making college affordable, and Hillary Clinton has put forth a comprehensive plan, the New College Compact, making sure that when students graduate, they’re not in debt,” Kwan said. “It also impacts students who are currently in debt. If they’re trying to start a small business, they can do that.”

“I think that a lot of her words, especially her personal testimony about talking with Hillary, really encouraged some people who were unconfident voters,” Seiler said.

But for decided voters who have been ready for this election to be over, early voting provided them with an opportunity to avoid what they call a hassle on Election Day.

“It’s a convenience thing, and it’s about getting more people involved in the election process,” Seiler said. “I voted today out of convenience, but I did have reservations on casting my ballot on Election Day, just like the memento of it.”

Simpson College students cast their ballots Tuesday, saying early voting polling locations eliminated the hassle of voting on Election Day.
Alex Kirkpatrick, Digital Editor/The Simpsonian
Simpson College students cast their ballots Tuesday, saying early voting polling locations eliminated the hassle of voting on Election Day.

But Clinton supporters said they’re fighting until the finish as they approach Nov. 8 with caution.

“You have a candidate who has such divisive and dangerous rhetoric and has no plan,” Kwan said. “There’s just so much at stake, and the Olympian in me is like, tunnel vision, focus, game day. And our game day is Nov. 8. And after Nov. 8, it’s getting a little sleep and getting some R and R after.

An optimistic Seiler said he’s confident but wary.

“Every day, I’m counting down,” he said. “With any luck, it’s a good sort of countdown, not like the countdown to the Titanic sinking by any means.”

Warren County Supervisor Traci VanderLinden said over 200 ballots were cast from all seven precincts. Officials had set a goal for 100 ballots and were happy with the results.

Some Simpson students found the early voting site convenient and easy.

Sophomore Ryan Sarver said he wasn’t planning on voting early, but while walking through Kent, he thought he would go ahead and vote.

Sarver said that voting is important to him because it is his “civic duty and allows you to express yourself and have a voice.”

With a highly contentious presidential race, many students had strong reasons for supporting their respective candidates. Travis Tupper, a Donald Trump supporter, found that while he doesn’t always agree with what Trump says, he does agree with his policy and vision for America.

Other students, like nontraditional student Matt Haynie, were voting against a candidate. Haynie thought about voting for a third-party candidate but decided that in order to “stop Hillary Clinton,” he had to vote Trump.

Junior Olivia Anderson led the effort to get a satellite location on Simpson’s campus with the help of Tegan Jarchow, Michelle Beving and a few Culver Fellows.

The petition required 100 signatures, which was made up of mostly Simpson students. Anderson spent the day as a poll worker but also made the effort to vote.

“I started working with Hillary’s campaign last summer as a fellow, and to have it all culminate to voting for her today was incredible,” Anderson said. “This is my first presidential election, and I couldn’t think of a better, more qualified candidate than Hillary Clinton.”

votingAlex Kirkpatrick, Digital Editor/The Simpsonian

If students missed voting on campus on Tuesday but still want to vote, Seth Andersen, director of the John C. Culver Public Policy Center, said: “You can still vote any day up to Election Day at the Warren County Administration Building located south of Carver. Here in Iowa, we have same-day voter registration, so you aren’t registered yet, it is not too late. If you decide you want to vote on Election Day, Nov. 8, be sure to check where your polling place is.”

Registration deadline is Saturday.

Students can still register after this deadline, but they will have to provide proof of residence by going up to Student Development during normal office hours and asking for a copy of a lease. The auditor’s office will open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday if students would like to register and vote then.

Out-of-state students who want to vote in their home state or want more information, they can visit simpson.turbovote.com or contact Andersen at [email protected].

Tips for registering:

– Students can register at school or at home. If they register at school, students need to provide their school addresses and must plan to return after temporary absences, like summer break, but do not have to plan to reside at that address permanently.
– If students choose to register at home, students may need to vote by absentee ballot. Ballots can be requested at the Iowa Secretary of State’s website.
– Registering to vote will not affect a student’s FAFSA status and will generally not affect scholarships. A student should confirm residency in a particular place is not a requirement of the scholarship or that registration in Iowa will not affect eligibility.
– Registering to vote in Iowa may affect a student’s driver’s license or car registration because registering to vote creates a presumption of residency for the purposes of the motor vehicle laws. For more information, contact the Iowa Department of Motor Vehicles.
– Registering to vote will not make students lose their dependency status from their parents.

For persons with disabilities:

– Persons with vision impairment can call 888-SOS-Vote (888-767-8683) or email [email protected] to receive accessible information and services.
– Persons with disabilities have the right to an accessible voting location, accessible voting equipment and to receive assistance casting a ballot.
– Voting early at the county auditor’s office might be helpful if a voter needs extra time or personalized assistance.
– If anyone needs help filling out a ballot, they may request assistance for marking or casting a ballot. Any voter may declare upon oath that they are blind, cannot read the English language, or is by reason of any physical disability, unable to cast a vote without assistance.
– Each polling place has a voter assist terminal. It is available to any voter. To mark their ballots, voters use features on the machine as a touch screen, an audio component, or a sip and puff element to select their candidate. The device will then mark their ballot according to their selections.
– If a voter cannot leave their car, someone can bring a ballot to their car by request. They may want to call the auditor’s office to arrange this.

General tips before casting a ballot:

What type of ID do I need to vote?

Typically, voters do not need any ID to vote early or on Election Day if they are already registered. A person may be asked to show ID if they are a first-time voter who registered by mail, or if the election officials do not know you, or if their right to vote is challenged.

If a person is not already registered to vote in Iowa and wish to register and vote on Election Day, they must provide a proof of identity and residence at the polls. This may be accomplished by showing an election official one of the following:

– a current and valid Iowa’s driver’s license or current and valid forms of identification if it contains your picture and an expiration date that has not passed
– an out-of-state driver’s license or state ID card
– a United States passport
– a United States military ID
– an employee ID
– a student ID issued by an Iowa High School or Iowa college or university

If a picture ID does not contain a current Iowa address, a voter must also show one of the following documents that lists a name and address:

– a residential lease
– a property tax statement
– a utility bill
– a bank statement
– a paycheck
– a government check
– another government document

How can someone vote?

By mail: Iowa allows voters who expect to be away from, or unable to make it to, their polling location on Election Day to vote by mail-in ballot. Voters have to apply for a mail-in ballot. Applications must be received by 5 p.m. the Friday before election. Voters may apply for a mail-in ballot at their county auditor’s office. Completed mail-in ballots must be received by the commissioner’s office by the close of polls on Election Day, or postmarked the day before Election Day and received by noon the following Monday.

Early in person: Early voting begins no more than 40 days before an election at the county auditor’s office. Check with your auditor’s office for specific location and times.

*Information provided by the Campus Voter Project, Disability Rights Iowa and Simpson College’s Culver Public Policy Center