More than 100 students registered to vote on Women
More than 100 students registered to vote on Women's Equality Day.

Catt Center promotes civic engagement in 2016 election

Faculty, staff and students affiliated with the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics are working with state, university and community organizations to encourage participation in the 2016 election.

On Aug. 26, Women’s Equality Day, the Catt Center joined with the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center and League of Women Voters of Ames and Story County to register 103 students to vote as part of an annual event held on the Plaza of Heroines outside Catt Hall to celebrate the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting women the right to vote. In addition, 22 students requested absentee ballots to vote.

This year’s event also provided an opportunity for members of the ISU community to vote in an inaugural Corn Poll on issues they deemed most important in the upcoming Nov. 8 elections. Of the 233 corn kernels cast, “justice and equity” was the most important issue with 23% of the vote, followed by “education” (18%), “gender rights” (16%) and the “environment” (15%).

The Women’s Equality Day event was led by Kristine Perkins, public relations/student programs coordinator for the Catt Center; Som Montgin, assistant director of the Women’s Center; and Carolyn Klaus, membership co-chair of the League of Women Voters of Ames and Story County.

In addition, a panel discussion – “Shattering the Glass Ceiling: Challenges and Victories for Women in Politics” – was held over the noon hour on Aug. 26 in Catt Hall. The panel included Kelly Winfrey, assistant professor of journalism and coordinator of research and outreach for the Catt Center, and Amber Manning-Ouellette, lecturer of leadership studies.

On Sept. 15, Catt Center director Dianne Bystrom will represent Iowa State University at a news conference scheduled by Secretary of State Paul Pate to highlight his office’s efforts to register college students across Iowa to vote. The news conference will begin at 1 p.m. at Drake University.

The Story County Auditor’s Office will offer voter registration in the Pride Lounge of the Memorial Union from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 26 through Sept. 30 and on Oct. 3 through Oct. 7.

On Sept. 27, National Voter Registration Day, the League of Women Voters of Ames and Story County, the Story County Auditor’s Office, and the Iowa State Student Government Presidential Task Force on Civic Engagement will sponsor four voter registration sites on campus. Voter registration will be available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Pride Lounge of the Memorial Union, outside the University Library, and in the dining rooms of Maple-Willow-Larch and Union Drive residence halls.

The Iowa Secretary of State’s office also offers online voter registration for citizens with an Iowa driver’s license. You will also need the last five digits of your social security number to register.

On Oct. 9, the Catt Center will join with Friley Hall, the Andrew Goodman Foundation “Vote Everywhere” ambassadors, the Iowa State Student Government Presidential Task Force on Civic Engagement, and the League of Women Voters of Ames and Story County to host a presidential debate watch in the downstairs lounge of Friley Hall. Doors will open at 7 p.m. with refreshments provided. Participants will have the opportunity to register to vote before and after the town hall presidential debate between Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump, which will air from 8-9 p.m.

The debate watch will include an interactive activity as well as a discussion following the debate before the media and campaign spins begin. “We’ll turn off the televisions after the debate so that participants can discuss what they learned without the influence of what the media and campaign surrogates say,” Bystrom said. Bystrom and Winfrey will lead the pre-debate and post-debate discussions as well as interactive activities – including live tweeting – during the debate.

Bystrom and Winfrey also will give presentations to community organizations related to the upcoming election. Bystrom will discuss “Women and the 2016 Campaign: Candidates, Voters and Issues” with the Ames chapter of the American Association of University Women at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 13 in the Stone Brooke Clubhouse and with the League of Women Voters of Ames and Story County at 7 p.m. on Sept. 15 in the Dasher Conference Room of Youth and Shelter Services. Winfrey will present “Women in Political Campaigns: American Women as Candidates and Voters” at 7 p.m. on Oct. 5 at the Ames Public Library.