Presidential Primaries Present Impediments for Oakwood, Southern Students

Seventh-day Adventist college students from Oakwood University and Southern Adventist University have reported obstacles to their participating in the presidential primary processes, though for very different reasons. For Southern students, new voter ID laws prevented several from participating in Tennessee's primary elections. Oakwood students were kicked out of a Donald Trump events in Alabama. In both cases, students were impeded from participating in America's democratic process for the first time.

The Southern Accent, Southern Adventist University's student paper, reported that nine students enrolled in a government class taught by Kris Erskine experienced irregularities while attempting to cast ballots--most of them at the Collegedale City Hall. Writing for the Accent's News section, Sierra Emilaire stated that four students who produced out-of-state licenses were not permitted to vote. Two students were not given the option of returning with a passport and none of the students involved were offered provisional ballots. Two out-of-state voters were asked for ID, presented their out-of-state ID and were permitted to vote, and two other students were reportedly able to vote without producing ID.

Tennessee is one of several states including Wisonsin, Texas and Indiana with voter ID laws in effect. Critics of the laws say they disenfranchise ethnic minorities and elderly voters. For Southern senior management major Natalia the law kept her from participating at all. “Here I am a 21-year-old college student attending a private university who wasn’t able to vote,” she told the Accent. “People make it seem like voting is easy, and if you wanted to you could, yet I couldn’t.”

For junior psychology major Hannah Odenthal, there was no problem. “It didn’t look like anyone around me was being asked [for ID] either and it was my first time voting, so I didn’t question it,” she said. “I thought it was really unfortunate that people in the same situation as me weren’t allowed to vote when I was.”

Read the rest of the story from the Southern Accent here: "Students experience voting irregularities."

In March, a group of students from Oakwood University attended a Donald Trump rally in Madison, Alabama, and along with students from Alabama A&M University (also a Historically Black University), were forcibly removed from the event. Oakwood student Jordan Michael Harris, the current vice president for the Alabama Youth & College Division of the NAACP, recounted the experience to Michael Timothy Nixon for Slant. Asked why he attended the event, Harris said, "I had seen on social media the way Black attendees were treated and wanted to experience it for myself in hopes that maybe there was some misunderstanding taking place."

Harris said that when attendees began holding up signs supporting Donald Trump, an A&M student held up a sign that said "Black Lives Matter."

"As soon as he raised his sign, the crowd collectively began booing, and flipping up their middle finger and yelling racial epithets at the Alabama A&M students, at which point, we held our fists in the air to stand in solidarity with them," Harris said.

The crowd grew more aggressive and confrontational, grabbing the sign and tearing it to pieces.

Trump, grunting in disgust, shook his head, then said, “All lives matter.” The crowd began chanting “all lives matter, all lives matter!” Then from that, the chant turned to, “get them out, get them out!” the police asked everyone to leave. As we were escorted out by police, we heard racial slurs, “f*ck y’all,” “monkeys,” “Go scrub the toilets before you leave!” and everything short of the N word.

Donald Trump has been under growing scrutiny concerning violence at his campaign events, most often targeted at black attendees. In many instances, Trump has made statements seen as condoning, even supporting violence against protesters, whom he calls "very bad people."

For Oakwood students, participation in the democratic process at that Donald Trump event meant being subjected to racist violence and being thrown out. "We stood talking for a few minutes and then the police said we must go immediately, so we left," Harris said.

Read the full story from Slant: "EXCLUSIVE: Black Student Kicked Out of Trump Rally Speaks Out."

Jared Wright is Managing Editor of

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

This report shows that one has to carefully pick their fight. Being new in the political process the Oakwood students were apparently not aware that “All Lives Matter” was more popular than just “Black Lives Matter” at that political gathering.
When one joins in solidarity with a group, then one has to be expected to be treated as part of that group. Raising a Fist [or hand] signaled they were part of the A&M group.
It is true that Black Lives Matter, but in my town, many of the Black Thugs have not heard the message, nor believe it. We have had a lot of Black on Black killings here since January. One a 14 year old girl by-stander standing in her own home living room.
Regarding the Southern students, usually one has to show proof of residence to get a voting card. A Tennessee driver license would naturally be one. Mail, utility bills are another way to prove one is a Tennessee Citizen, and then a County Citizen.
Otherwise, one needs to get a form to vote absentee from their home State-County.
Apparently there is a lot they still did not learn from their experience. Had they learned, they probably would not have complained in the Accent.

Turns out that the person who fired random bullets into the house, killing the girl, was a teen barely old enough to drive. Now that he has been captured, he is up for prison.

Lindy – I am not a “racist” just because I am concerned about Black on Black crime. I have quite a few black friends. [happen to be non-SDAs]. I tutor with a group of black and white friends in a black neighborhood and half our kids grades K to 5 are black and also attend a predominately black grade school which over the past 6 years has ONLY had a student body passing the State test in reading and math at 50% of the students each year. The whole student body will be disadvantaged the rest of their lives. HOW AWFUL IS THAT??? We are talking several thousand lives here.

Kris — I am only allowed 1 spot to answer persons. Yes it does seem to be a problem with the poll workers.
Where I am registered to vote in Sequatchie County, TN, when I go to vote all I have to do is show my ID or my voter registration card. They have duplicate information about me at their desk. They check off my name. Give me access to voting. And I cast my vote.
There are usually about 5 persons working the voting station. Dont know how many there. But seems like as a Committee they could have helped the students work out the issues they were having.
Unless the Training Officer, prior to the elections failed to give proper instructions.
PS – when I vote in Sequatchie County, although there are several voting precincts, I am ONLY ALLOWED to vote at the one assigned. I will be rejected at the others.


The first mistake made was to even attend anything Trump! :slight_smile:


My question would be, why would they want to be involved in this circus? I don’t see how an Adventist could support any of the candidates on either side. The Republican candidates are opposed, in general, to separation of church and state, which should be high on the priority list of any Christian. The Democrats seem to want to aid as much as possible the downward trend in morality; and neither party wants to deal with illegal immigration.

As for voter ID laws, Canada has them, and no one seems to have a problem with it. ID’s are required at airports, liquor stores, banks, and many other places. Why should something as important as voting be exempt–especially if the government is willing to provide them free to those who can’t otherwise afford them?

This is as it should be. One should not be allowed to vote, except in the State in which they have their permanent residence. That’s why absentee ballots are available.


My first presidential ballot was cast 1000 miles from home, in a Universtiy official’s office, decades ago. I signed up for my absentee ballot from my home state well ahead of time. In this day of instantaneous information via the Internet, how is it that these students didn’t know how to participate in their own states’ election process?


Anyone who travels in a vehicle as a passenger, in a cab, a car, a truck or a bus, is CRAZY not to be riding with photo ID on their person, as one never can predict that there will not be a traffic fatality! (with unidentifiable corpse).

This is especially true of cyclists, who are exceedingly vunerable even when wearing crash helmets.

And am I remembering that some months ago there was a shoot-out in Chatanooga? We are all vunerable to unexpected gun violence, whether terrorist (now that the radical Muslims are hitting "soft targets " ) or “workplace violence”.

Life is fragile. My stepson was murdered in downtown Portland Oregon, two blocks from my condo, where he was staying. He was stabbed in the heart by a homeless man and died in front of the Portland City Hall.

Fortunately he had his California driver’s license on his person. Even though it was “out of state” the astute and wonderful Portland police were soon at our door to tell us of our tragic loss!

Last week I was in Honolulu, and to board a bus, I had to produce a government issued ID, in this case my medicare card, in order to get their discounted fare! You cannot buy SUDAFED, a common over the counter non-prescription drug, for runny noses, without a government ID- because it is an ingredient in the street drug, “Crystal meth”. So requiring government ID to vote, should not be considered a heinous imposition. There are so many “dead” people voting, the system is corrupt in many constituencies.

These students should be GRATEFUL, that voter ID laws give them an incentive to get a photo ID, which should be on their persons whenever they are out and about.

One only votes once every two/four years, but carrying photo ID should become a daily necessity!


Expecting to yell “Black lives Matter” at a Trump rally and be welcomed , or even to avoid being kicked out, is like expecting to win the lotto jackpot twice in succession. In fact it may even set back interracial relations unnecessarily, since many black thugs seem oblivious to the meaning of the motto themselves. Students should prioritize sharpening their skills so that they can save lives with the medical and other skills they learn at Oakwood and Southern.

Students should think about what they are doing…about strategy and tactics to achieve aims. The schoolyard -type shouting and fist raising only served to rally the pro-trump racists closer around this man with the scatter-shot approach to social and foreign policy matters. In this regard, the racists are “dead right”. If they can nurture enough resentment among silent racists or those who feel marginalised for one reason or another, and thereby swing the delegate count Trump’s way , then no doubt their motto will be dead right. Trump’s hits at overseas friends and threats to foes will almost ensure another widespread war cycle, perhaps some madman could l unleash weapons of mass destruction , say on the Korean Peninsula? However , it is possible, if unlikely, that these students will volunteer for frontline duty if such scenarios occur where their country may be in grave need of man/woman power???


Valuable and priceless experience tailored made for SDA university graduates who will soon be employees of our church where the same beasts are alive and well but cloaked under WO and Male Headship.


Thanks, niteguy2 and intrinsa.

That’s one way of looking at it.

However, another way of looking at it is that:

a) Trump’s outrageous pronouncements and coarse brutality correlate with the values of many white Americans, even ones who, if they would not say these things themselves, appreciate someone [white] saying them;

b) Because of this, and the de facto acceptance of the Trump Plague within the scope of electoral politics, the sensitivities of [possibly] otherwise discerning people have been lowered and detuned.

The best comment I’ve heard about this fact was from someone on Twitter who said, “I remember how the media jumped all over Al Gore for loudly sighing during a debate with Bush.”

Most of you, here, are old enough you clearly recall that incident, but had probably forgotten about it. However, it immediately defines the slope of our descent into meaner, post-9/11 politics.

It’s only in this context, that the major takeaway from news of an event like this, by purportedly Christian people, is “that one has to carefully pick their fight.”

Really? You’re saying that it’s reasonable, at a political rally, to expect to be racially harassed and assaulted, and that we should just shrug our shoulders? See a) above.


• In a study conducted last year, the Public Religion Research Institute found that most Americans believe that protests improve the country, but that this support drops significantly when the protesters are Black.

• The voter i.d./“voter fraud” issue is chicanery designed to disengage the Black vote and make it impotent. As Mother Jones wrote in 2012, “UFO Sightings Are More Common Than Voter Fraud.”

• To bring up “Black-on-Black crime”—a non-existent, racist specter—and “Black Thugs”—ditto, and in title format, yet—in a discussion about elections serves a similar purpose. It doesn’t matter whether that’s your intent, or not.

If we were watching, night after night, a Black candidate, talking about Black issues, with crowds of working-class Black people roughing up white people holding signs and throwing them out of meetings, white people across the nation would have already risen to have this candidate condemned, arrested, and his campaign halted. They would do this, merely on the strength of the television visuals.

Had Barack Obama done this, on his rise to the presidency in 2008, he would not have been discussed as a viable candidate in the manner of Donald Drumpf. Had Barack Obama done this, the chance of him becoming president would have been about as high as the chance that, in your lifetime, you will be killed by lightning.

Which, statistically, happens 39 times as often as voter fraud, by the way. In other words, these are race issues, which means they are racist issues. They should be discussed as such, in order to avoid deceit.


@rohantocharles @intrinsa


To say black on black crime is non-existent seems to contradict the statistics on the FBI’s website which shows 2,245 murders of blacks by black perpetrators in 2013. This number is considerably higher than the 189 blacks murdered by whites and the 409 whites murdered by blacks in the same year.


The embedded link to the original story in “The Southern Accent” gives a more thorough explanation of what happened with regards to voting irregularities experienced by the students. Some students were not asked for ID. Some showed out of state licenses as ID and were allowed to vote. So the implementation of checking ID was very spotty. This is hard for me to fathom—every time I have ever voted, the poll worker checked her roster to verify that I was listed as an AL resident. I am intrigued that someone in TN could walk in and vote and not be on the list—It appears to me that the whole endeavor occurred after some discussion about this sort of thing with a history teacher.

At least that is how I perceive the situation. So, it does make for a human interest story.

While I would not for a second vote for someone like Trump, it is good that such things can come to light, so the public can be more aware of who some of the supporters are. But we should be careful though not to paint the whole group in that light.

It is to be expected that some folks would hold up Trump signs at a Trump rally. But this seems to suggest to me that these young people were looking for some action. I’m sure they knew it would cause conflict. However, conflict is sometimes required when all else fails to get an important point across. But having said that, I have to wonder, did any good come of this? Will it help to move things forward, or has it in fact caused things to move backwards? Right now I see 2 groups of people shutting each other out, and getting worse.


Yeah, you can’t:

  1. Disrupt a campaign event without expecting to get kicked out. It seems they were expecting this anyway and weren’t disappointed. It is a private event. A protestor at a Clinton event could expect the same. In modern college parlance, this was a “safe space” for Trump supporters.

  2. Vote in a district you don’t permanently live in. I’m surprised this article doesn’t talk about a Canadian who was “disenfranchised.”

Sometimes Spectrum astounds me with its self-righteous ignorance.


I realize that I am making an assumption that most of these commenters are Adventists, but with that understanding in my mind, it reaffirms my belief that the Adventist Church still has a long way to go with respect to racism. Not that this comes as any shock, I’m sorry to say. I have two cousins who sit in the pews of the church every week that are total avowed bigots. I love them, but, their views are repugnant to me. Interestingly, they are both Trump supporters. Go figure!
I have mixed emotions about these young people going to a Trump rally, but it was their constitutional right to be there, even to express their opposing viewpoint. To expect anything other than what they received would be similar to going to a David Duke KKK rally while simply being black.
The numerous commenters who have “gone-off” with such words as “Black Thugs” and “Black on Black Crime” are simply thinly disguised closet racists, or perhaps open racists. These are racist “buzz words”. You can call it whatever you prefer, but if your quacking like a duck, you’re probably a duck.
I know you think that when you’re in the voting booth that you’re in there all alone, but you’re not. God know who and what you voted for and how it will impact the lives of those around you. If you vote for people who espouse hatred, it really isn’t any different than making racial slurs, or worse, discriminating against people, yourself. If you’re voting for people who are marginalizing a group of people for their religious beliefs, or what part of the world they come from, or how they dress, you’ve now become like the Pharisees. I imagine that the Pharisees would probably have built a wall to keep out the Samaritans if they had the where-with-all to do so. But since they all wore burkas during the time of Christ, it would probably be too difficult to determine who to discriminate against.
Just remember, if your candidate is at odds with what Christ said in Matthew 25: 31-46, then I think you should be concerned. The people you vote for are your proxies, whether you like it or not. But, don’t be fooled into thinking that government can legislate morality, because there will not be a single person in heaven because they were forced to behave a certain way by their government. Morality only takes place in the heart.


I know some people like this as well. It totally mystifies me. Like, how is it that they can go to church, practice a Christian religion and not have encountered self-awareness, introspection and Grace.

They’d never do it, but people like you have mentioned really need to spend some time practicing meditation and spiritual formation.

Pause, think, listen, understand…

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Niteguy, I was the professor mentioned in the article. It was due to student communication with myself that these voting irregularities came to light. In the US federal law states that students who are attending college in another state are permitted to register and vote in the state where they attend college. In all of these student cases they had registered properly and had obtained voter registration cards. Of the nine students who experienced voting irregularity (out of only fifteen who reported to me that they voted, mind you), five of them were non-white. Four of those non-white students were not permitted to vote with out-of-state ID. Of those students who were allowed to vote with out-of-state ID or were not asked for ID at all, all of them were white. In all cases, all nine of them, the students should have been offered a provisional ballot and then been required to provide the proper TN ID within three days. None of them were offered provisional ballots.

Your comment about their complaints to the school newspaper suggest that you may be missing the point, or perhaps the Spectrum article didn’t highlight it well enough. Although the students did not take TN ID to vote, that does not excuse what appears to have been racially based denial of vote to some, and flagrant disregard for TN voting laws for others, all subject to the whims of the poll workers. If your vote and my vote are subject to nothing more than what the poll workers want to do, then what sort of democracy do we have? That is what motivated my students to approach the school newspaper, AND the local Chattanooga newspaper. And I applaud them for having the courage to do so. More students need to be like them, both involved and clearly eager to be involved in the process. These nine young people who united together, black and white, to highlight a problem in our local community are leaders and your reprimand probably ought to be directed at the polling workers rather than people who went to vote.

This is not my opinion alone, this is the opinion of the state of TN as well. On the day that I began to realize what had happened I contacted our local county Director of Elections by email. By the end of the day he had called me and was angry at what had happened. After I got off the phone with him, the Chief of Staff for the TN Secretary of State called me, and he was also angry. After that phone call, the TN Secretary of State called me, and he was also frustrated and angry. In their mind this was not a case of students not knowing the law, it was a case of the poll workers, trained and paid at taxpayer expense and representing the citizens of Tennessee, not knowing the law and demonstrating racially based voter denial.


Although to be positive, as you suggest, is a good thing, you also have to realize that protesting is an essential aspect of democracy. Without protest there is often no, or slow, progress. Where would we be without protest in the 1860s? Where would we be without protest in the 1960s? Where would we be without protest in the 1770s? Protest doesn’t always lead to earth-shattering changes, but those changes will not often come without protest. In this case, with Donald Trump, I applaud anyone who protests, provided they are not using, or advocating, the same messages and methods as Trump himself. As Mao said, revolution is not a dinner party.


Carmen, that is correct. I am that professor, and one student told me that she even offered to show her TN ID and was told “no, we aren’t checking this time, honey.” A second student, as noted in the article, says that no one around her was asked for ID. Yet another student is told “we are sorry, but you can’t vote.” That is beyond acceptable in 2016. And all but one of these students voted at the same polling station.

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Birder, first of all, the issue at hand is not the legitimacy of voter ID laws. But if it were, you’d find no mention of the constitutional rights to fly, buy alcohol, go to the bank, etc. But the Constitution has five, five!, amendments that deal with the right to vote. No other constitutional right gets so much attention. So, yes, it is an important right to protect, as is the integrity of our democracy - voter ID or not - and that is why what happened here in Collegedale is unfortunate.

Every state in the United States interprets “permanent residence” to be the place where you intend to return to as your principal home for the time being. The Supreme Court and every state in the union have interpreted this to mean that students can register their dorm room as their permanent residence. Any other interpretation of the law is unconstitutional. Period. These nine students of mine were behaving no differently than tens of thousands of other students in the United States on primary day. So, in this case, the students did, in fact, register to vote in their home of “permanent residence,” and the local director of elections called me to verify that they had all registered correctly. The TN Secretary of State also called me and expressed anger at what had happened.

The problem here needs to focus not on students who didn’t vote properly, because they did everything right, except to take a TN ID with them, which they could have remedied within three days after completing a provisional ballot, as is TN state law. But none of the students were informed about provisional ballots. That is the first problem, that the poll workers did not offer provisional ballots to ANY of the nine students, black, latino, or white. All of them should have been given provisional ballots. No one leaves a polling place without having voted. No one. If the voter doesn’t show up in three days with the proper ID then the vote is not counted, but no one who enters a polling place leaves without having voted.

Strict TN voter ID law was just settled in the courts in 2013. It has only been within the last few years that a TN ID was required. Many states allow students to vote with out-of-state driver’s licenses. It appears, however, that the state of TN, a traditionally red state, is attempting to offset the requirements to let students vote where they go to college. Why? Because young people more often vote blue, and many of these universities are racially and ethnically diverse, a group who also vote more to the left. That this group of out-of-state students of color were turned away is evidence that the system needs to be reformed.

I’m really not sure why the focus here is on blaming the students, they did everything right, except take the proper ID. They registered on time and in the correct polling place. They showed up at the correct place to vote, and they decided to go and be part of the American democratic system. They took ID to vote but did not know that they needed TN ID. Their mistake, but easily remediable with a provisional ballot. But they walked out of the polling place not having voted if they were a person of color and out-of-state, and having voted if they were a white person with an out-of-state ID, and in two cases, white students who were not even asked for ID and were permitted to vote.

And remember, their complaint has absolutely nothing to do with the existence of strict TN ID laws, it has to do with them being unevenly applied.


Well, we could debate the merits of allowing students to vote in a State other than where they normally reside, since they are not usually up to speed on local issues. If it is limited to federal elections, I could see it, but it’s still unnecessary, since absentee ballots are readily available.

I think we should reexamine the voting age. I do not believe most 18 yr old kids are informed enough to vote. Many are naive, idealistic, and out of touch with the realities of the real world. I know there are exceptions, but we usually don’t make laws based on a few exceptions.