ASU softball player leads charge to register fellow student-athletes to vote
PHOENIX – An Arizona State University softball player is swinging for the fences — and not just on the field anymore.
Olivia Miller, a junior outfielder for the Sun Devils, dedicated her time to register as many fellow student athletes as possible for the November general election.
Her goal doesn’t end with registration, however. She wants to educate others about the process of voting while also helping others uncover their own political beliefs.
“I want athletes to know that we have a voice outside of sport,” Miller told KTAR News 92.3 FM.
Miller, an Arizona native and Tempe Corona Del Sol High School alumni, is aiming to encourage fellow student-athletes that change happens at all levels, especially locally.
She’s focused on addressing highly debated topics today that include police brutality, systemic racism, LGBTQ+ rights and global warming.
For Miller it is about using the platform of a field or court to connect, encourage, and educate others with the start of a dialogue within a larger demographic to initiate change.
Over the past year, Miller has worked to rally ASU athletes, teams and coaches to get prepared for the 2020 election.
“This age group is typically pretty apathetic in regards to voting, so that’s why we wanted to push for it so much,” Miller said.
She described the beginning of the process as slow and said she often heard, “I don’t like either candidate and my vote doesn’t matter.”
Despite those comments, Miller pushed through working to show her cohorts their votes matter and that they are voting beyond a candidate this November.
“I want to educate people on voting and help them understand that it goes far beyond just voting for a president,” Miller said.
“In fact, if I had my choice, I wouldn’t focus on the presidential vote at all, but what I really want kids to understand is that local elections are more relevant to you as an individual and you have more reach in and has more direct impact.”
Over the last few weeks major progress has been made. Following National Voter Registration Day on Friday, an additional 100 Sun Devil athletes were registered to vote.
Prior to the voting initiative, about 5% of student-athletes were registered to vote, according to ASU.
Five weeks from the election, over 400 of the 540 eligible ASU student athletes were registered to vote.
Monday is the registration deadline, and early voting begins Wednesday.
Miller said the first-time voters do have some concerns.
“A lot of people are worried about getting a mail in ballot and if it’s going to be counted or not,” Miller said.
Miller also described the economy being a major topic. But she believes it’s not the students themselves who are worried about it – rather an outside influence.
“It kind of makes me laugh a little bit because a lot of what, from my age group at least, people who are worried about the economy are more so worried about their parents worrying about the economy,” Miller said.
“We’re adults now, so we shouldn’t be listening to what our parents are so concerned about.”
With a high percentage of Black student athletes at ASU, Miller described the issue of race in the country today also being a major topic of discussion on how and if that will be addressed with the next president.
Other issues Sun Devil student athletes are concerned about global warming, the handling of COVID-19 and the recent passage of the first law to allow college student-athletes to market and profit from their name, image and likeness without affecting their eligibility. The new law would go into effect on July 1, 2023.
Ballot explanation on a local level is also planned ahead of November 3.
As many Sun Devil student athletes are voting in their first election, the Student Athlete Sun Devil voting initiative is hopeful they will feel empowered with their votes and more connected on a local level.
“We’re going to have a couple of sessions that are targeted to … how to navigate the media and how to decipher what sources are credible or not,” Miller said. “Also, how to find your own political beliefs … that kind of thing.”
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