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Northeast State tops among state community colleges in voter registration drive

Community Contributor Tom Wilson • Nov 10, 2019 at 10:00 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — Northeast State Community College won the community college division for the 2019 Tennessee College Voter Registration Competition, thank thanks to the dedicated work of student club members, among three winners across the state.

The college’s Council for Leadership, Advocacy and Student Success  or C.L.A.S.S. club registered 205 voters, the most among all Tennessee community colleges participating in the competition. The contest took place during September in honor of National Voter Registration Month.

“The C.L.A.S.S. club is to be commended for their hard work,” said Mark Beaty, club advisor and director of Student Life at Northeast State. “It is particularly a good achievement during a non-major federal election year.”

Sponsored by the Secretary of State’s office, the competition gave every college and university in the state the opportunity to compete by registering the most students to vote. Participating institutions were asked to spread awareness of the campaign on social media using the hashtag #GoVoteTN, along with their school-specific hashtag.

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett announced Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Northeast State and Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City as the winners of this year’s voter registration competition on Oct. 30.

More than 2,000 students registered to vote at the 48 schools participating in the contest. The winning schools, a 4-year public college/university, a 2-year community/junior college, and a private college/university, were selected based on the number of new students registered and their social media presence. The competition also considered their campus creativity in promoting the college voter registration drive.

Joni Hughes, secretary and treasurer for the Northeast club, said club members posted registration tables at different Northeast State campuses during September. The students also staffed the annual Student Life Club Fair event held as a membership drive for student clubs across campus. The total of 205 marked the largest number of students ever registered by a Northeast State club in the competition.

“A lot of people would come by and sign up without being prompted,” said Hughes.

Beaty also noted how a factor determining the winner included an institution’s total enrollment correlated with the number of students that were registered. Middle Tennessee State University registered 381 students to top the competing four-year schools. When comparing the student population of both schools, he said Northeast State posted an impressive ratio of students registered in relation to the college’s total enrollment.

“We weren’t trying to win the competition, we were just trying to do our best,” said Tuan Nguyen, club president. “When you strive to do your best you often end up doing something really special.”

Club members and the college will receive an award from the Secretary of State’s office recognizing the first-place win.