CEDAR FALLS — The March 19 special election to fill the open seat in state Senate District 30 falls during the University of Northern Iowa’s spring break, so students are pushing to have their voices heard with early voting.
Two satellite voting sites were open Tuesday and Wednesday, one in UNI’s Maucker Union.
By 5 p.m. on Tuesday, 425 ballots had been cast at Maucker Union. The other location is at the Diamond Event Center at Western Home Communities.
“More students are aware of this election than they normally would be,” said Sam Blatt, a UNI student organizer for Eric Giddens. “It has such urgency.”
Voters will choose between Republican Walt Rogers, Democrat Giddens and Libertarian Fred Perryman, all of Cedar Falls. District 30 covers Cedar Falls, Hudson and portions of Waterloo.
Republicans and Democrats set up tables around campus to drive students to the polls before spring break. The progressive-leaning NextGen America hopes to replicate what it describes as record student turnout in the November midterm election.
“The biggest thing we’re trying to accomplish is to get as many young people to vote since (Gov.) Kim Reynolds scheduled the election during spring break,” said Trenton Seubert, NextGen America Cedar Falls organizer. ‘We have students all around campus that we’re working with.”
Nearly 60 percent of Black Hawk County’s registered voters cast ballots in November, breaking 2014’s previous record.
Students and faculty have been communicating on social media about where to vote, Blatt said. “We have a lot of people on campus sharing information about voting.”
There also are programs at the dorms for students to walk to the polls together.
During the satellite voting, both parties reached out to fellow students outside of Maucker Union.
Nicholas Schindler, UNI College Republicans president, said they worked last week to get people to join their club and had their first meeting last wee. “We had Walt Rogers at our meeting to talk about his campaign and to get people to vote at Maucker.”
Schindler said Rogers was a strong advocate for UNI in the Legislature.
“When he was there, he increased funding for UNI by 28 percent during his time in the Iowa House,” Schindler said. “He just loves the school.”
Rogers campaigned with the students Monday.
The UNI College Republicans recently reorganized. Several club leaders graduated after the 2018 midterms.
Schindler restarted the club in time for the special election campaign.
“We need a spark at this campus to get a conservative and Republican presence here so some of these kids can join a club that isn’t left of center,” Schindler said. “We’re outnumbered substantially.”
Brenna Wolfe, UNI College Democrats' social media director, also has worked to get the word out about early voting.
“This past Saturday we had a day of action on the Hill,” Wolfe said. “We had people going out and knocking doors all day. We had a rally event at the Octopus where we had Deidre Dejear there and (presidential hopeful John Hickenlooper).”
The student Democrats also have tables around campus.
At least nine potential Democratic presidential candidates have or will have come to the Cedar Valley, something Wolfe appreciates.
Most students won’t be on campus March 19, when the special election is scheduled.
“I would say 60 percent of them will gone, probably,” Schindler said. “We want students to vote Tuesday or (today) because if not they have to fill out an absentee ballot by Friday.”
Any voter in Iowa Senate District 30 can vote at the satellite locations, and same-day voter registration is offered.
After today, early ballots can still be cast at the Black Hawk County Courthouse.