May 13, 2019 9:43 am

Who doesn’t love a vote goat? That is — a goat with the word VOTE! lettered on its side in animal-safe paint. Add a root beer “vote float” and you have just some of the creative ways Pierce College Puyallup student leaders enticed students to register to vote last fall.

They broke previous Pierce College registration records, earning a prized spot at a luncheon with Governor Jay Inslee on March 28, 2019 at the Governor’s Mansion in Olympia.

It was all part of a statewide challenge issued last fall by Governor Inslee to encourage college student leaders to register their peers to vote. Pierce College Puyallup ended up in the top 10 colleges statewide.

“We already do quarterly registration drives during Welcome Days on campus,” said Elyse Flury, student government president at Pierce College Puyallup, “so we just decided to ramp it up this year.”

In September 2018, student government leaders at the Puyallup campus mounted an intensive, two-day campaign to register voters during Welcome Days. “We work as a team and everyone participated,” said Flury.

Between offering donuts, vote floats, concert ticket giveaways, and attracting students to their booth with two colorful goats, they registered a record 120-plus voters. Over 4,000 new voters were registered statewide.

“A lot of students who registered told us they had been meaning to do it anyway and just hadn’t gotten around to it,” said Flury. “Besides, they got a free donut out of it. Who doesn’t like free food?”

Some students who chose not to register cited a lack of information or belief that the political process doesn’t work for them, according to Flury. 

“They told us they don’t think the government represents them,” Flury said. “They don’t feel informed enough about the issues to vote and or it wasn’t part of their family tradition growing up.”

This type of response saddens Flury, who is passionate about voter participation.

 “We have the blessing to live in a democracy and if you want to have a voice, you need to vote,” she said. “If you don’t like the government, vote to change it.”

 Each of the 10 winning colleges got to send three student leaders to the luncheon.

“There were seven of us who ran the voter registration drive and we held a drawing to see who would go,” said Flury. Flury and fellow students Anthony Talingo and Anisia Khammala ended up attending.

Talingo said he enjoyed talking with other students from other colleges to see how they had gotten students to register. While not as politically active as Flury, Talingo is a strong believer in the importance of voting.

At the luncheon, Governor Inslee stopped by each table to mingle, then made his remarks. He said he was “tickled” by the vote goat story, giving a shout-out to the Pierce College students for their creativity.

“I was so proud that most of the winners were community and technical colleges,” said Flury. “It was so powerful to be sitting in a room with young people being recognized for what they did, at an event thought up by young people [the Governor’s interns]. Too often, we are written off for being young, when we have really good ideas.”

(P.S. – The Pierce College students said the food at the luncheon was excellent.)