Don’t Just Vote, Volunteer

Post contributed by Bridgett A. King, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Sciences

During every election year, citizens are encouraged to participate by casting a ballot and voting. In addition to exercising their right to vote, citizens can also participate politically by serving as poll workers. According to the Election Administration and Voting Survey in 2016 917,694 citizens volunteered to serve as poll workers in more than 116,990 polling locations that were in operation on Election Day across the United States. Poll workers are on the front line of elections. These individuals are responsible for complying with state and federal law, setting up the polling location, checking voters in, providing assistance to voters when machines malfunction, answering questions and conducting poll closing procedures. Poll workers are one of the most important components of managing and conducting a successful election. Research even suggests that positive interactions with poll workers increase the confidence that citizens have in election administration procedures and the accuracy of election results.

In spite of their importance in the electoral process, state and local election officials continue to face challenges when trying to recruit a sufficient number of poll workers for Election Day. The problem of recruiting a temporary citizen workforce for Election Day is not new. In the 1930’s Joseph P. Harries in Election Administration in the United States noted, “The greatest single problem of election administration is that of securing honest and capable precinct officers.” In the 1930s poll workers were provided a stipend between $3 and $6 per day. Although the stipend has increased (the average poll worker in the United States receives a stipend of $150-200) the challenge of recruitment remains the same. To address the shortage, states and local jurisdictions have tried many creative solutions. These include eliminating the stipend to make it easier for retired citizens to serve (Virginia), increasing compensation (Tennessee), encouraging college students to serve as suggested by the United States Election Assistance Commission (EAC), allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to serve (at least 32 states do this), and permitting split shifts (Nebraska). As the process of election administration continues to evolve and state and local election officials consider and implement innovations to meet the needs of the citizenry, poll workers and the service they provide will continue to play an important role in the management of elections.

As Tom Hick, Chairman of the United States Election Assistance Commission stated, “Poll workers or elections workers are a very important line of defense for the security of the election process. Every election, officials are short on the number of election workers needed to fill this important civic duty. [Serving as a poll worker] is one way to give back to the country we all love” (Personal communication, March 15, 2018). By serving as a poll worker, you can contribute to sustaining democracy in the United States. To serve as a poll worker in Alabama, contact your Democratic or Republican Party County Chairs.

 

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Get Ready, Get Set, Vote!

Post contributed by David Newton, Faculty of AU Pharmacy (retired), OLLI at AU Volunteer, Environmentalist, Charter Member (48 years and counting) of Common Cause*, and Voter

This year you (citizens) have the opportunity and responsibility to participate in the hiring of many fellow citizens to do the public’s business, i.e., operate the several levels of our governments. If you are a registered voter in Auburn, you will do this when you vote in the elections held on August 28, for City of Auburn Municipal Officials, and November 6, for Federal, State, and County Officials.

To be successful, your democracy must have citizen participation. Merriam-Webster states: Democracy is “a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.” Therefore, YOU and all the rest of us need to get into the game. We should register to vote, study the issues, study the candidates, work in campaigns, and VOTE. If we don’t participate, our democracy may not thrive, and we will have only ourselves to blame.

For information on registering to vote and much more about voting in Alabama, read the “Alabama Voter Guide 2018” published by the office of the Alabama Secretary of State. Some candidates seek offices at the county level. Probate Judges supervise our county elections. They provide dates and candidates’ names for their county only. For information on the election in Lee County visit the webpage of the Lee County Probate Judge. Except for Auburn, few Alabama cities are electing city officials this year. For information on the election of the Auburn Mayor and the eight members of the city council, visit the city webpage. Recall that in the U.S., administration of elections is the responsibility of the state, county, and city. Therefore, if you live elsewhere, you must obtain information on voting from your home jurisdictions.Photo of a Vote Button

Regarding the issues, there are so many, e.g., animal rights, climate change, zoning, and dozens more, that you should probably concentrate on those of special interest to you. For example, you can concentrate on spreading the word on climate change and how we must cooperate at all levels to lessen its impact. Currently, market-based solutions (e.g., declining prices of solar and wind power) appear more likely to be persuasive. Of course, internet searches are readily available, but don’t pass up the resources of your library. Librarians excel at finding facts!

Studying the candidates, can be a challenge, partly because there are several offices to be filled, governor and more than a dozen others at the state level, and often several candidates for each office. Many candidates have websites where they post their accomplishments and plans. Organizations of interest to you will often report the records and positions of candidates. Possibly work cooperatively with friends and share results. Don’t forget the librarians as a resource. For some races, you can learn of financial backing of candidates by searching the databases of organizations such as OpenSecrets, VoteSmart, or the Alabama Secretary of State.

Working as a volunteer in the campaign of a candidate can be a valuable experience. Prior experience is usually not necessary, but there is much work to be done, and candidates will be glad to have you. It will give you a greater appreciation of the sacrifices and hard work of candidates, especially the successful ones.

Finally, you must vote. No exceptions! For too many elections, the turnout at the polls has been less than desired, sometimes much less. We really must change that. You can help. Just do it!

*“Common Cause is a nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.” Source: CommonCause.org

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Largest Selection of Sustainability Courses to Date

Post contributed by Nanette Chadwick, Director of Academic Sustainability Programs

For fall semester, Academic Sustainability Programs is offering the largest-ever selection of approved sustainability courses at Auburn. Several new courses have been added this year, including selections related to community planning, food systems, and biosystems engineering. The total number of approved courses in sustainability is now 43, comprising 2 general introductory courses, 40 electives (spanning 8 colleges across campus), and a capstone course in which students conduct real-world projects related to local and campus sustainability issues.

Into to Sustainability class
Students in an Introduction to Sustainability class pose with a concept map.

All courses have been vetted by a Sustainability Minor Committee, and may be used either toward the minor, as free electives, or in some cases toward students’ majors or core courses.
About half of these courses are being offered this fall semester, with some also available this summer, and some even available as online courses.
For a complete listing of all the current courses in sustainability studies, and the pattern of past course offerings (so students can plan on which semesters courses are usually offered), see our downloadable pdf file of classes.

You can also find more general information about the minor and other course information (including study abroad), on the Academic Sustainability Programs website.

Faculty: if you are interested in your course becoming approved toward the sustainability minor, please submit an application form.

Best wishes to students as you register for summer and fall semesters. Please feel free to contact Dr. Chadwick at chadwna@auburn.edu with any questions, or if you would like to make an appointment to discuss course options.

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Waste Reduction, Recycling, and Climate

Post contributed by Joan Hicken, Coordinator, Waste Reduction and Recycling Department

Greenhouse gases from human activities are the most significant driver of observed climate change according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Resource extraction and processing, manufacturing, transportation, consumption and waste management all result in greenhouse gas emissions. Rising levels of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere are causing changes in our climate. Some of this can be attributed to solid waste.

The stuff we buy, use and throw away has an impact on climate. Everything we consume requires energy for its manufacture, transportation and disposal. This energy is usually produced by burning fossil fuels and this releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Wasting less and recycling more saves energy and is one of the easiest and most effective ways we can act to help reduce climate change. Fewer emissions are produced when waste is prevented in the first place, by consuming less (reducing), reusing and then recycling.Graphic of recycling logo in shape of a heart

Waste reduction is the process of preventing or reducing the generation of waste. When we reduce our waste or reuse products, less energy is needed to extract, manufacture and transport goods. As a result, there are fewer energy-related emissions from resource extraction and manufacturing, and the absence of emissions related to waste management. Waste reduction can reduce emissions significantly.

Recycling is an effective way to also reduce greenhouse gases. Using recycled materials to make paper, plastic and cans saves energy and reduces emissions. For example, making new aluminum cans from old cans requires 95% less energy than producing them from raw materials. When we recycle, we avoid the greenhouse gas emissions from landfills and reduce the need to extract new resources from the earth.Purchasing products made from recycled materials instead of virgin materials helps reduce energy consumption. Manufacturing products from recycled materials requires less energy than making them from all new materials. Buying recycled reduces the amount of raw materials needed to manufacture items, conserving natural resources, saving water and energy, and reducing water and air pollution.

Waste reduction and recycling are ways that we can use less energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to a healthy climate.

 

 

Tips to help better manage the waste we produce:

  • Choose reusable items instead of disposable
  • Buy products with minimal packaging
  • Use reusable bags instead of plastic bags
  • Rent or borrow things you use infrequently
  • Recycle office paper, cardboard, plastic bottles, aluminum cans, steel/tin cans

 

GET CONNECTED

Email aureuse@auburn.edu
Web auburn.edu/recycle
Twitter @AU_Recycles
Instagram @au_recycles
Facebook auburnuniversityrecycles

 

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Recycling Drop-Off Center Now Available On Campus

Post contributed by Lindsay Souders, Student Employee, Waste Reduction and Recycling Department

One of the ways the Waste Reduction and Recycling Department is working to promote sustainability on campus is by recycling – diverting useful materials from the waste stream in an effort to reduce our dependence on landfills. To make recycling convenient for those who do not have access at their homes, condos or apartment complexes, the department has set up a recycling drop-off center open to all members of the Auburn Family.

Recycling Center Map
The recycling site can be seen on this map in relation to the Band Practice Complex and West Thach Avenue.

The site is located on West Thach Avenue at the back of the West Campus Parking Lot near the Auburn University Band Practice Complex. There are separate bins for recycling mixed paper and recycling mixed containers, along with a dumpster for recycling cardboard.

Mixed paper includes copy and colored paper, magazines, catalogs, junk mail, newspapers, inserts, phone books and dry food boxes. Mixed containers include plastic bottles, like water and soda bottles, sports drink bottles, milk jugs, shampoo and conditioner bottles, laundry detergent and fabric softener bottles, as well as aluminum cans and steel/tin cans. There are banners on the fence listing acceptable materials and labels on the bins directing visitors where to correctly put their recycling. The center does not accept garbage, glass, plastic bags or stuff in plastic bags. These things will contaminate the recycling.

Recycling bins
Signs are located on the fence to help individuals sort their recyclables into the right bins.

It’s important to remember the three R’s – reduce, reuse and recycle. Practicing them will reduce the amount of waste you produce. Adopting these habits now will set up a better future for all. Living sustainably is really about making small changes. The act of recycling fosters positive environmental attitudes and personal responsibility. It creates good habits and inspires us to develop new and better ways of managing and eliminating waste.

The Waste Reduction and Recycling Department manages waste contracts on campus and provides recycling services to the university community. The recycling program was established in 2005. For more information about recycling or the drop-off center, call 844-9461.

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