KU Partnering with Douglas County to Provide Civic Engagement Office Hours

Friday, October 09, 2020

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas will offer weekly Civic Engagement Office Hours, in conjunction with the Douglas County Clerk’s Office, leading up to the 2020 general election.

Led by The Commons, the Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity, the Center for Service Learning, KU Libraries and the William Allen White School of Journalism & Mass Communications, the effort will offer a reliable and regular space for questions about the election.

“The strength of our democracy is evidenced by our collective participation in voting and other civic processes,” said Jomella Watson-Thompson, director of the Center for Service Learning. “In the 2016 presidential election, the voting rate for KU students was 51 percent. It is critical that college students feel empowered by their vote, which is evidenced through full participation in the process from registering to voting a ballot.”

In spring 2020, the Center for Service Learning, Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity and The Commons developed the Educate & Act Series to connect research at KU with civic engagement opportunities and processes. The events have occurred on the first Tuesdays of the month, leading ultimately to Election Day in November. Topics have included the Census, the voting process, voting from the margins and the feminist agenda. A special event, "Queering the Vote," took place Oct. 8. Video is available here.

Beginning today, Oct. 9, with additional support of the KU Libraries and the journalism school, the group will launch Voter Education Office Hours with the Douglas County Clerk’s Office.

“This is a natural extension of the Educate & Act series, which welcomes questions from students and community members alike, about how to participate in democracy,” said Emily Ryan, director of The Commons. “Observing that a lot of processes look different in the face of the pandemic, we wanted to offer a platform to anyone with questions about voting protocol.

The sessions are intended as drop-in opportunities for clarifying information or finding reliable resources to share.

“This year, it is extremely important that accurate information is available to voters,” said Jamie Shew, county clerk and election officer. “Our office is pleased to partner with these organizations in this educational effort.”

Events are hosted on Zoom and can be accessed at thecommons.ku.edu.

Registration information is below:

11 a.m.-noon Oct. 9

Noon-1 p.m. Oct. 13 

Noon-1 p.m. Oct. 20 

Noon-1 p.m. Oct. 27.