Midterm elections are a year off, but already local and state leaders are talking about plans to get more people voting. College students are one of the largest groups targeted. Bradley hosted an event Friday to draw more students into the political process.
This fall Bradley University saw its largest freshman class since the 1960s. More than 1200 freshman students enrolled, a 16-percent increase over last year. One Bradley government leader wants to make sure all of them vote next year.
"We're hoping to register 2,000 Bradley students to vote by this time next year and get them informed," said Bradley Institute for Principled Leadership Director Brad McMillan.
Several elected and government officials were invited to Bradley to talk about civic engagement in its Restoring America's Democracy event. Chicago area Congresswoman and Bradley Alum Representative Robin Kelly was among the speakers. Kelly says it's important to ride the victories of Democratic candidates from Tuesday's gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey.
"We've been working hard and i think it's empowering, it gives encouragement, it's atta girl, atta boy. But we can't rest on our laurels. We have to continue to work hard to reach the people we haven't reached or people we haven't lost" she said.
Illinois Representative Mike Unes says despite gridlock among leaders in Springfield it's important to find common ground.
"There's really good camaraderie among the rank and file members on both sides and that's healthy and good, but we need more of that," he said.
Besides voter registration leaders say gerrymandering which favors one political party over another in legislative districts is also a problem.
After three failed attempts to create a citizens panel on redistricting Brad McMillan says the strategy will change next time around.
"We're gonna try to get a legislative constitutional amendment passed and so we've got a strategy to do that," he said.
Redistricting won't happen until after the 2020 census but already civic leaders say they're getting ready now.