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Students prepare for the election, get ready to vote


Story by third-year student Valeria Obi

Students at Stetson Law have been preparing for the upcoming presidential election on Nov. 6. The Stetson Law Republicans and Stetson Law Democrats student organizations put political differences aside to co-sponsor a “Registering the Vote” event for students on Sept. 19. The event provided students with an overview of why voting matters as well as information on how to register to vote.

“In having a unique perspective on public policy, law students can not only understand ballot initiatives, but can also have intelligent conversations with their peers about their social impact,” said third-year student Katherine Heffner, former president of the Stetson Law Democrats.

Heffner said that voter registration drives not only help students register if they haven’t already, but also help students vote by setting up absentee voting or vote by mail options.

“Because of their vested interest, and because of their knowledge, it is extremely important for law students to be registered to vote and to use their vote in any and all elections that they can,” said Heffner.

Stetson Law Professor Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, who was recently named among Top Wonks for her expertise on campaign finance and election topics, urged people to register to vote, including those who’ve moved since the last election, in an article in the Atlantic magazine.

Students had another opportunity to participate in the election process, working behind-the-scenes during the Republican National Convention in Tampa in August. Third-year student Jennie Hayes, president of the Stetson Law Republicans, volunteered to help out during the RNC by scanning tickets, directing foot traffic to events, and answering visitors’ questions.

“It was a great opportunity to be in that environment,” Hayes said. “You see all these individuals like [former] Governor Mike Huckabee and Governor Nikki Haley on television all the time, but to see them in person is just surreal, and they are all just as nice and great in person as they appear on television.”

Student Jeff Harvey, who founded Stetson’s Student Veterans Organization, is also a member of the Florida Army National Guard and was called to serve during the RNC. Harvey was second in command of more than 200 soldiers responsible for security efforts supporting Tampa police and local law enforcement. He worked the night shift with the National Guard when the convention was in Tampa while keeping up with his daytime classes at Stetson.

“I am very fortunate to have such a great school that is so supportive of military service,” said Harvey, who is also a Yellow Ribbon Scholarship recipient.

Professor Stephanie Vaughan also attended events in Tampa during the convention. “The camaraderie amongst everyone from VIPs to law enforcement was evident and the excitement was palpable,” said Professor Vaughan.

Professor Vaughan, who leads international programs at Stetson and has traveled around the world as adviser for Stetson’s award-winning Moot Court teams, said that she has observed that many countries are very in tune with the American political process.

“We certainly live in a great country that truly plays a huge part in our world,” said Professor Vaughan.

To learn more about registering to vote in the U.S., visit presidentialelection.com.