Held in the Sterling R. Church Auditorium, the Leavitt Center hosted Pizza and Politics and discussed various topics, ranging from voter security to the requirements to vote in the state of Utah.
The Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Services hosts the event every Wednesday from 12-1 p.m. at the Southern Utah University Leavitt Center.
Recently changed to “Poptarts and Politics” because of COVID-19, the event gives students the opportunity to learn about and discuss politics.
This Wednesday, the event was moderated by sophomore Danielle Tebbs who is majoring in sociology and minoring in political science, and senior Brittany Cordova who is studying political science. For both students, it is their second semester being involved with Pizza and Politics.
“Pizza and Politics is important for students to attend because it starts an open dialogue,” Cordova said. “It has changed my opinion on certain topics and it’s a great way for students to practice their freedom of speech.”
The Leavitt Center Free Speech Policy says that they guarantee the right to “speak, listen, challenge and learn. . .The campus community has a special duty to not only set an outstanding example of tolerance, but to also challenge oldy and condemn immediately serious breaches of civility,” read Tebbs. During the event, students discussed the history of voting, voter suppression, the history of voter registration, voting in the age of COVID-19, voter fraud and requirements to vote in Utah and voting deadlines.
In light of the upcoming election, Tebbs addressed how many U.S. citizens actually vote, which is only about 60% of the U.S voting population, with only 40% voting in midterm elections.
“Some criticize the U.S. for making registering to vote and voting itself too complex and difficult,” Tebbs said. “In Sweden, the voting turnout is about 87% and in Sweden, citizens are automatically registered to vote.”
This was followed by presenting this question for discussion: “Should the U.S. automatically register citizens to vote?”
Members of the audience voiced their opinions. One student said, “I know Canada automatically registers their citizens to vote and I think we should do that too to make it easier if they choose to vote.”
Another argued, “If we automatically register them, I think it’s infringing on their right to vote. If they don’t want to vote, they shouldn’t be pressured to do so.”
On Thursday, the final presidential debate will be broadcast at 7 p.m. There are free watch party bags available for pickup in the Leavitt Center.
Congressman Chris Stewart will be on campus in the Library Plaza on Thursday from 10-11:30 a.m. He will be giving remarks and answering questions and all are welcome to attend, according to Tebbs.
This Friday from 5-6 p.m. the Leavitt Center will be hosting a candidate forum with Utah governor candidate and Democrat Chris Peterson and his running mate Karina Brown in the Student Center Living Room. Face masks are required for this event.
The Leavitt Center is offering an internship for the Spring Utah Legislature, and applications are due on Nov. 1 at midnight. For more information on the internship, visit the Leavitt Center website. Applications can be sent in a single pdf to firstname.lastname@example.org
The general election is Nov. 3 and the deadline to register to vote in Utah is this Friday, Oct. 23 at 5 p.m. Utah mail-in ballots were sent out to all registered voters beginning Oct. 13, so check your mailbox for your ballot or visit vote.utah.gov for more information.
Story by: Elizabeth Armstrong
Photos by: Elizabeth Armstrong