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Whee Love Voting: WCU Polling Place a Success

Students Holding "I Voted" Stickers


by Julia Heckert

This spring, Western Carolina University served as an early voting place for the 2024 Primary Election. Alyson Umberger, Civic Engagement Coordinator for the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL), collaborated with the Haire Institute for Public Policy, Department of Campus Activities, Parking Operations, University Police, and the Jackson County Board of Elections to secure the site. Before the primaries began, CCESL and a nonpartisan student organization, Student Democracy Coalition (SDC), did a big push to help students register to vote and to educate them about our state’s Voter ID laws. Along with information sharing on the WCU Votes website and social media, CCESL and SDC also held voting registration tables on campus, providing voter registration forms to students, assisting them in filling out and submitting the forms, and educating them about using their Cat Card as an acceptable form of identification.

CCESL also hosted on-campus events to promote the polling place, including Dogs for Democracy and Donuts for Democracy. Several of CCESL’s community partners, including HIGHTS and Indivisible Common Ground, donated their time to bring therapy dogs to campus for students to pet and learn about voting. The Haire Institute for Public Policy partnered with CCESL to set up a voting information table with free donuts to all students.

All of these efforts helped WCU maintain their historically high levels of civic engagement and voting. The WCU polling location had a higher turn out this spring than during the midterm elections in 2022. For several days during the primaries, WCU led the state in Same Day Registrations, ultimately coming in second just behind NC State University. At 23%, WCU did lead the state in percentage of ballots cast from persons who completed Same Day Registration. Overall, the primary polling place proved to be a great success.

The work of civic engagement continues as our nation anticipates a General Election this fall. Civic Engagement is a university priority, with Chancellor Kelli Brown serving as the president of North Carolina Campus Engagement’s Executive Board and on the President’s Council for ALL IN to Vote. CCESL’s 2024 Campus Action Plan received the Highly Established Action Plan seal by All In to Vote, recognizing WCU as one of the best in the country for building and facilitating nonpartisan civic engagement. CCESL looks forward to continuing our work with students, faculty, and staff to help foster a continual cultural of civic engagement on campus. For more information about voting, visit the WCU Votes website at

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