In the 2012 election, the United States saw the lowest percentage of adults aged 18-24 voting since the 2000 campaign. The number fell to 38% after two consecutive elections with a voter turnout in that same age bracket in the mid to high 40s. College students, who make up the majority of that age bracket, are evidently facing obstacles in getting to the voting booths.
For Katie Brandon, the Director of Political Engagement for Student Council, addressing this problem is a serious issue. Brandon is the founder of UVAVotes, an organization which launched in early September on grounds that encourages students to vote. UVAVotes does this through their informational website and volunteers found throughout grounds that will happily give any student the help and information they may need on the registration process. Brandon recognizes how imperative it is that students are aware of this information and the implications that embody it.
“Participating in presidential, congressional, gubernatorial, and local elections is how people and students can create policy change,” Brandon said. “If we were able to effectively mobilize the college and young-person electorate, we would have the political gravitas enjoyed by our elders who turn out at the polls in much higher numbers. There’s a reason candidates don’t want to lose the support of the AARP: they have an enormous support base that consistently shows up at the polls, college students don’t do that and it needs to change.”
UVAVotes has been the driving force for the student voting initiative on Grounds. Brandon knows it is critical that students are registered to vote, especially for an intellectual and politically aware student body such as UVa.
“The ultimate goal of UVAVotes is to increase voter registration, voter turnout, and voter education on Grounds. Our University has an incredible abundance of politically inclined students and political resources, UVAVotes is leveraging those to ensure we meet those goals.”
According to the Campus Vote Project, in the 2008 election, nearly 1.7 million Americans ages 18-24 were not registered to vote. This is a staggering number consider young adults (18-29) make up over 20% of the total voting population. According to the Campus Vote Project, the majority of the 1.7 million were not registered because they did not how or where to register, or they missed the deadline.
There is an abundance of resources on grounds in order to prepare students for the upcoming election. Brandon has some advice for students who have not yet registered and wish to do so.
“Students can find more information about registering to vote online through www.uvavotes.com or check out the US Government’s webpage vote.gov – both of these pages are non-partisan resources,” said Brandon. “Just remember: you must be registered at yourcurrent address by October 17 in order to vote in Virginia for the November 8 election.”