Student delegate represents Indiana in nationwide voting initiative
The first time Dontae Hampton voted in a presidential election, it was 2012. He was a high school student a few months past his 18th birthday.
“At the time, my government teacher was stressing it: ‘Those of you who are 18 need to go vote,’” he says, adding that he thought, “Man, I can vote, so I want to vote.”
Now, Hampton is serving as that kind of mentor to students throughout Ivy Tech Community College Northeast: He is the College’s delegate in College Debate 2016, a non-partisan group that brings together college students nationwide and teaches them “to identify issues and engage peers in the presidential election.”
“The ballot is stronger than the bullet.” ~Abraham Lincoln
Hampton, an accounting student, attended College Debate 2016 programming in San Francisco twice over the summer to learn more about the political process and identify key issues from Indiana that he thought need to be addressed.
“It’s mostly to help students from all 50 states come together and have them reach out to their peers,” he says. It’s about getting “people to vote and start getting people interacting with the debates and the campaigns.”
The issues most important to Hampton are immigration, diversity, and education, he says, and all three stem in part from personal experience: Hampton has a friend from Cozumel, Mexico, who is living in the country without legal permission. Because of her status, she is unable to qualify for financial aid, which makes it difficult to afford an education.
JoAnne Alvarez, the College’s student success and retention coordinator, nominated Hampton for the training opportunity because she has known him for years—he is friends with her children.
“Anytime I ask him to do something, he is just on it,” Alvarez says.
She also knows him through ¡GOAL y Amigos!, or Graduating Outstanding Achieving Latinos and Friends, a student group for Latino students and those interested in learning about the Latino culture. Alvarez overseas the group, and Hampton is a member. Though he is not Latino, he says, he has always been interested in Latino culture, and he plans to minor in Spanish after he graduates from Ivy Tech Northeast and transfers to IPFW to earn a bachelor’s degree.
“The whole Hispanic culture, it is something neat, something I appreciate,” Hampton says.
Plus, Hampton recognizes that organizations like GOAL help him educationally.
“That’s how I mostly learn: socially,” he says. “People adapting, sharing new thoughts, making networking connections.”
He even uses the group to further his objectives for College Debate 2016: He set up a table at GOAL events to ensure that students knew how to register to vote and, after the registration deadline, where to vote.
“Voting has been important to me because I feel like, you can’t really complain about who’s in office if you don’t make any contribution to the election,” he says. “You definitely need to be active about who is running where you live, your home.”
Did you know?
- Indiana gets 11 electoral votes.
- That is 2 percent of the total 538 electoral votes.
- And it’s 4 percent of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the general election.
- Between 1900 and 2012, Indiana cast votes for the winning presidential candidate nearly 69 percent of
- In the same time frame, Indiana voted Democratic 17 percent of the time and Republican 83 percent of the time.