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Public Service Project posts highlight students at colleges and universities across the country within the IOP’s National Campaign for Political and Civic Engagement who are improving their communities through public service on their campuses.  As there are many different ways in which one can serve the public, the IOP aims to feature a broad collection of Campaign student public service experiences to inspire all of us to make a difference every day.

Authored by Simpson College National Campaign student MacKenzie Bills.

Attending the small private school has led me to do the work and outreach that I enjoy. The summer before my first year of college, I interned for representative running for his district seat. As I knocked too many doors for my sanity, I noticed I visited hundred of constituent’s doors that were over the age of 65 and close to none that were my age. This began to disturb me.

Where were my peers? In all honesty, my vote against hundreds of 70 years meant nothing. In response, I founded my own club named Simpson Votes, in connection with the Culver Public Policy Center.  It is a non-partisan group that gives advice and opportunities to Simpson students to register and vote. That goal is to engage students at the political level.

Most students do not realize their importance in the national system. I fundamentally believe it is each of our freedoms and rights and should be used as such. It should never be taken for granted. To get out this message, I began door-knocking, setting up tables, and put on events. At the end of last year, I had the registration rate on campus at 70%.  

After the campaign season, I came across a second issue across the country that is not only targeted to young people. People only vote in the large elections such as the Presidential and national races. When we look at the votes at local mayor and city council elections, the numbers are atrocious. In a community of 15,000, there are maybe 500 voters.

This is extremely upsetting. Most make the choice to not vote but often times, students in particular, are not aware of the elections. The parts of government that affect us most in our daily lives are our local and state governments and these are the races with the smallest amount of turnout. This in turn has become my next goal. I have started having forums for the mayor and city council candidates to speak to students at the college about their platforms and what they plan to do when and if they win the elections.

There is a rare senate race because our elected official dropped out and I am hosting a forum for the state senate candidates for the students to hear their plans. It is important for each level of government to be held accountable if we want our country to run smoothly. These are the reasons I stand so strongly for voter engagement and work to engage students. 

MacKenzie Bills is a sophomore at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa and serves as her school's Ambassador to the Institute's National Campaign Consortium. Bills took part in this year's National Campaign Conference "Beyond Voting: Non-electoral Political Engagement" that took place October 4th - 6th. View photos from the weekend's events