The Green Sharks Student Sustainability Club is holding weekly registration events every Monday from 12 to 1 p.m. in the UC Spine. Students can stop by their table to fill out the Florida voter registration form, apply for mail in ballots, or check their voter status if they are unsure. The table is run by volunteers from the club who want to make an impact on campus by registering NSU students to vote. The general election isn’t until November which means the deadline to register is Oct. 9. Stop by the table to register any Monday from now until Oct. 8.
Young people historically have the lowest voter turnout of any age group in the United States. According to recent polls, only 50% of young voters (age 18-24) cast votes in the 2016 presidential election, and even less come out to vote on non-presidential years. With midterm elections just around the corner, these alarming small numbers bring to light an interesting problem— college aged people don’t vote.
The reasons for this inactivity stems from many issues and misconceptions that young people have with the process. Many voters are discouraged to vote due to strict voter registration restrictions which vary from state to state. Here in Florida, you must be registered 29 days before the date of the election, meaning that failure to register in advance bars you from participating in the coming election. Luckily, as students on a college campus, we have access to a variety of resources which take the headache out of voting.
Class schedules, jobs, and prior commitments often create too much of a hassle for many young people to go to a voting booth which are only open specific hours in election day and mean waiting for long periods of time in line. By planning in advance and requesting a mail in ballot students can avoid this hassel and receive the ballot right to their address. The ballots with a pre-stamped return envelopes and people voting can sit down at home and fill out their ballot to put it in the mail. There are no lines and it makes it very easy to reach their candidates and all the laws that are up for vote.
“It’s a really convenient way to [vote] because you don’t have to show up in person to the polling place. They just received your ballot in the mail and it goes into the count,” said Jeffrey Hoch, associate professor in the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography.
NSU will also be an early voting site from Oct. 22 to Nov. 4. That’s all the more reason to get registered, because it will be so easy to vote.
Another obstacle of the voting process is a lack of civic education. If students don’t know enough about the issues, they don’t vote. However, this issue can easily be overcome by the easy access to voting guides from various sources. The League of Conservation Voters puts out a voter guide and the League of Women’s Voters puts out a voters guide as well. These can be found online and provide voters with a brief synopsis of current issues, candidates and laws in order to help them to make informed decisions come November. By being aware of of the issues at play, students can better make informed decisions that affect their lives.
“College students don’t see the government as working for them and so they don’t think that their vote is going to make a difference,” said Hoch. “Things like students loans are exploding because politicians aren’t interested in stepping in because college students aren’t voting for the politicians that would.”
Students are the most underrepresented age group in the political scheme— if they did decide to vote, their vote could change the entire focus of politics. So step up and commit to making a positive change by registering to vote.