The American Democracy Project is a group dedicated to getting students more politically engaged. Rob Catlett, director of Emporia State’s chapter, professor of economics and director of the Center for Economic Education, said students can get involved in local and national politics through the group’s eCitizenship program, where students can tweet political discourse in a polite, engaging environment.
“I got involved in American Democracy Project from my economics course,” said Rashaun Herah, freshman economics major. “Catlett told us these political issues can affect me and my school.”
Catlett said the ESU chapter has received a lot of attention because the political discussions they have through their eCitizenship program on Twitter are known for their atmosphere of politeness.
“People have been really polite and courteous with each other,” said Jared Dale, junior economics major. “Nobody’s beliefs get attacked.”
The program had four Twitter debate sessions over the last month. Dale said there were three separate debates during each session – one with only ESU students, one with Northern Georgia University students and several other schools and one between all chapters of the American Democracy Project.
Catlett said the American Democracy Project has no party affiliation, but the number of students who are registered to vote or are engaged political discussion is on the rise.
“We have seen an increase in students registering to vote for the first time and students that are already registered,” Catlett said. “Even though they cannot vote, a lot of international students have gotten involved in politics through this program.”
Herah said he sees more students becoming informed on national politics than local politics but more students are involved in local politics than he previously thought.
Matthew Lewis, junior economics major, said he has personally noticed that more students tend to vote based on policy rather than party line.
“As students learn more about these issues, they become more informed,” Lewis said. “More people are getting information online. There’s still a lot of word of mouth, but more people get their information about politicians on the Internet.”
The candidates running for Lyon County Clerk are incumbent Tammy Vopat and \Billy Garner, sophomore secondary social sciences education major and an Associated Student Government senator.
The candidates running for Lyon County Treasurer are Sharon Gaede, who is currently the county motor vehicle supervisor and has worked in the treasurer’s office for 18 years, and Lisa Jones, a cash clerk for the treasurer’s office who has worked in the office for over 30 years. The candidates running for second district commissioner are Mike Dorcey and Dan Slater, who is currently County Controller. The candidates running for third district commissioner are incumbent Rollie Martin and Richard H. Kennison Jr.
Vopat is a native of Emporia and has worked for Lyon County for 10 years, serving the last four years as County Clerk.
“It’s encouraging to witness someone registering to vote for the first time and how excited and anxious they are to vote,” Vopat said.
Local and national elections take place Nov. 6.