This election cycle saw about 49% of young voters cast ballots.
Registration forms. Voter ID cards. Absentee and mail-in voting ballots.
Students might get a bad rap for a supposed “enthusiasm gap,” but first-time voting can be tricky.
This election, though, about 49% of young voters cast ballots — but not without the help of bottom-up collaborations connecting campus student governments to national organizations.
One such collaboration that helped push students to the polls on Nov. 6 was the Campus Vote Challenge (CVC), which worked with 20 universities to connect student body presidents with tactics and resources to boost voter registration and turnout.
Based on each university’s implementation of various tactics, CVC then ranked these schools on a “scorecard,” with George Washington University, University of Texas San Antonio and Purdue coming in the top three.
According to its website, the CVC –like Rock the Vote and TurboVote — seeks to “cut the confusion” for first-time voters.
And there is indeed confusion.
68% of students polled across the nation were unable to accurately answer questions about their state’s voting laws, according to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University.
Even students who considered themselves knowledgeable about politics — like Purdue junior Bobby Egan — were somewhat perplexed.
“I was initially [confused] and concerned about the voter ID thing, and I consider myself up to date with current events,” said Egan, the executive director of governmental relations.
Egan said he felt responsibility as a student government official to help students learn how to vote.
“Our role is to be the voice of, and to inform, students,” Egan said. “In order to get students’ input, we need them to vote. We have to inform them where the polling places are, etcetera.”
The CVC helped pair his university with the League of Women Voters — who ultimately helped register 180 students, Egan said.
At Florida International University, various organizations and voter initiatives “empowered students,” and “gave them the tools to vote,” Student Body President Laura Farinas said.
TurboVote, a national organization, helped registered more than 1,000 FIU students, she said. The College Republicans and Democrats hosted watch parties, rallies and various politicians like former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Marco Rubio.
Alexander Williams, the George Mason University student body president, said that even though his campus is “very politically active” and located in the swing state of Virginia, he still encountered the question — “Why vote?”
“Our efforts, between student government, Mason Votes, CVC and others, all have the common goal of getting college students to vote,” Williams said. “Our generation has the opportunity to send a very clear message to our elected officials.”
Even with the jointed efforts, though, some students missed their chance to vote due to complications or by choice, Farinas said.
“Regardless of all the efforts, there were still many students who were not able to vote because they did not understand the system,” she said.
Farinas said she wished her student government had helped facilitate more non-partisan outreach.
Egan said that the key to gaining even more young votes in 2016 is more collaboration, especially with student organizations on campuses. He and Farinas agreed this election’s results showed the young vote is a force to be reckoned with.
“The youth turnout is breaking that urban myth that students aren’t just sitting on their couches, watching TV and doing homework,” Egan said.
“It does not matter for whom; all that matters is that we vote and get our voices heard,” Williams said.
Powered by Facebook Comments