Pellissippi State hosts ‘Election Primer’

At his “Gnosis Election Primer” lecture, Keith Norris, associate professor of English, will discuss how the Electoral College works as well as tackle other political topics, including mudslinging, polling data and swing states. The community is invited to Pellissippi State for the free event, Monday, Sept. 10, 4:30-5:30 p.m. in the Goins Building Cafeteria Annex at the Hardin Valley Campus.

Dirty. Politics. The words have gone together since the election of 1796, says Keith Norris, associate professor of English at Pellissippi State Community College.

“Politics in the United States has always been a bare-knuckled sport,” says the self-proclaimed political junkie.

Norris will talk about all things electoral Monday, Sept. 10, 4:30-5:30 p.m., in the Goins Building Cafeteria Annex on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

His lecture, “The Gnosis Election Primer,” kicks off Pellissippi State’s first-ever Civic Engagement Week, Sept. 10-17. The free talk is sponsored by the Gnosis student organization, and the community is invited.

Norris discusses some famous past presidential elections and how they compared to this year’s political fistfight. He also explains the Electoral College, swing states, polling data and more.

“Right now Obama and Romney are about neck and neck in national polls,” he said, “but the race will ultimately be decided by eight or nine states. The state polls are what we should be paying attention to.”

In addition to addressing the fascinating mechanics of winning an election, Norris says he wants to emphasize the importance of developing the habit of voting in every election. He also wants to dispel the notion that a vote doesn’t “count” because it’s just one vote.

“Voting can be a tremendously emotional experience,” Norris said.

Beyond Norris’ lecture, the Civic Engagement Week activities include the presence of voter registration tables throughout the week at each of the five campuses. Also, on Sept. 17 Ian Hennessey with the Blount Mansion Association presents “From Philadelphia to Knoxville: Tennessee’s Role in the Constitutional Experiment.”

The Hennessey presentation is noon-12:50 in the Goins Building Auditorium. The lecture on Tennessee’s historical connection to the U.S. Constitution is also free and open to the public.

“The week between 9/11 and Constitution Day is perfect for encouraging civic participation,” said Annie Gray, Pellissippi State English professor and Civic Engagement Week coordinator.

For more information, call Pellissippi State at (865) 694-6400 or email Gray at To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or