HATTIESBURG, MS (THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI) – The Mississippi Campus Compact (MSCC) is working with partner institutions of higher learning across the state to advance American democracy with service-learning initiatives, including college poll worker training programs, through a Help America Vote Act (HAVA) grant.
Administered through the Election Assistance Commission, the HAVA grant provides an academic foundation through service-learning to encourage college students to participate in the U.S. electoral process, foster an interest in democracy and government and improve poll worker shortages. Partnerships with political science departments at colleges and universities and local election commissions across the state are in place to aid the development of this program.
Jin Joo McClendon, HAVA program coordinator, said the program's initiatives include recruitment, training and supporting college poll workers to assist local election commissions leading up to the Nov. 2 general election.
"We also seek to increase student interest in the electoral process through course work, as well as build the capacity of MSCC and its member campuses, to continue the college poll worker program," McClendon said. "These initiatives will result in building bridges with community members as well as the infrastructure on campuses."
Southern Miss faculty members serving as advisors for the program include assistant political science professors Dr. Marek Steedman and Dr. Troy Gibson from Hattiesburg and Dr. Douglas Bristol, associate professor of history at Southern Miss Gulf Coast.
Students from Southern Miss' American Government and Introduction to Political Science classes can participate in the program to meet course requirements to participate in a civic engagement project in the community, said Dr. Gibson.
"It's a great program," he said. "The whole idea is to get students involved in their community, and there's no better way to do that than to vote and help others vote."
Other colleges and universities involved in the program include Tougaloo College; Jackson State University; Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and the University of Mississippi.
Mississippi Campus Compact is a state affiliate chapter of Campus Compact, a national coalition of more than 1,100 college and university presidents, representing some 6 million students, dedicated to promoting community service, civic engagement and service-learning in higher education. To learn more about the HAVA program and Mississippi Campus Compact, online visit http://www.usm.edu/ccce/programs.php