Southern Oregon University junior Anita Cary spent Monday afternoon dialing dozens of students across the state, encouraging them to vote in today's election.
"Hi, my name's Anita and I'm calling to see if you've had a chance to vote yet," she said over and over.
Most of the time, the students had not cast their ballots.
"I just want to make sure you know the deadline is tomorrow at 8 p.m.," Cary told them.
About a fifth of the students who answered the phone calls from the SOU division of the Oregon Student Association had not turned in their ballots as of Monday afternoon, said junior Jake Falldorf, executive director of government affairs for the Associated Students of SOU.
"We're hoping 50,000 students in Oregon will vote," he said. "But that's wishful thinking."
A team of about eight volunteers, led by OSA campus vote organizer Aimee Enders, has spent the last few months registering students to vote, informing them about the election and, finally, trying to get them to cast their ballots.
"I think a lot of students get caught up in school and forget about voting, and just hope for the best," Cary said, "but if we don't vote, we get forgotten about."
The student leaders registered 788 people on campus this fall, coming shy of their goal of 900.
"We almost made it," Enders said. "I'm excited about how many we did register."
Some of the students registered to vote for the first time, while others reregistered, changing their addresses or other information to ensure they received ballots, she said.
Statewide, the OSA registered 18,000 students, Enders said.
The volunteers have handed out hundreds of informational booklets on the candidates and measures. The student association's nonpartisan voting guide lists statements from candidates on how they will meet students' needs and information on how the measures might affect students.
"We don't care who you vote for — just that you vote," Enders said. "Everyone has a voice and we want you to use the voice you have."
The student leaders also have hung posters across campus that read, "Has your roommate voted? Ask!" and "Want Change? You've got two choices: Vote OR Vote."
Students seem most informed and interested in Measure 74, which would establish medical marijuana dispensaries, Falldorf said.
"There's definitely a lot of discussion here about it," he said. "From my initial reading, I'd say most students are probably pro."
The measure could cause more students to turn in their ballots, Enders said.
"I think it's definitely sparking interest," she said. "When we did class presentations, it was one of the issues that stood out."
At SOU, some students are engaged in the election, but others are apathetic, Enders said.
"It's kind of half and half," she said. "We have students who are excited and then there are always those students who just don't care. We're trying to change that little by little."
Sophomore Tyler Swanson said Monday that he wasn't sure he would vote in today's election.
"I'm not too interested in it right now," he said. "I haven't been keeping up with this election very much, because I've been so busy with school."
Junior Paige Reaves said she planned to cast her ballot today.
"I know if we students vote, then we can be heard and we can get more funding for education," she said.
Students can drop off their ballots in the Stevenson Union's Raider Nest until 6 p.m. today, at which point they will be transported to the official drop box at the Ashland Branch Library, 410 Siskiyou Blvd., which closes at 8 p.m.
The SOU student leaders will continue to call their colleagues to encourage them to vote between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. today.
"Students are just really bad procrastinators," Enders said.
"That's what we're here for," Cary said. "We're here to remind them."
Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-482-3456 ext. 226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.