Hitting the Books and the Polls

By Rebecca Szlajen

This fall, young voters may be more concerned with their classes than the upcoming presidential election.

The Campus Vote Project (CVP) is attempting to change that. The non-partisan organization supports and assists young voters, ages 18-24, to help remove any intimidation about the act of voting. The majority of the problems young voters face comes from lack of understanding how the voting system operates, according to Mike Burns, National Director of the CVP.

“All of the students either need to understand the absentee voting rules from the state that they are from, or be home around an election day and have access to early voting, which is not generally how the academic calendar works,” said Burns.

The CVP does not directly communicate with students; it urges schools into assisting their students.

The CVP’s website states that 18-24 year-olds make up 21 percent, or about 1.7 million, of the U.S. population. Also, only 58 percent of those citizens were registered, and only 17 percent of those registered actually voted.

While many young voters may miss their registration deadlines or do not know about either early voting or filling out an absentee ballot, the CVP aims to fix this.

Turnout for young voters has been increasing during presidential election years, but the numbers always fall for mid-term elections. Burns is optimistic about the turnout of youth voters as another presidential election approaches this upcoming November.

The CVP hopes more young voters will turn out this year, because candidates have been discussing issues pertaining to young voters and students, such as raising the minimum wage making the cost of attending college more affordable.

The process of voting out of state seems daunting, but Massachusetts Secretary of State Communications Director Brian McNiff assures that it is not.

More Democrats are registered than Republicans, McNiff said, but more young voters are registering as unenrolled because unenrolled voters are now allowed to vote in their state’s primary elections.

This is very appealing to young voters who may not know much about politics yet wish to register to vote. Unenrolled voters make up about 53 percent of the total amount of voters.

“There’s more flexibility if you go in unenrolled,” McNiff said.

An unenrolled citizen can request ballots from either party, allowing him or her to vote for a Democratic candidate in the presidential primary and a Republican candidate in the general election.

Burns’ tone for the 2016 election is a positive one, “For national trends there was very high youth turnout in 2008, which held in 2012. There’s usually a dip from presidential to midterm… but the turnout this year at the caucuses and primaries has made me optimistic.”

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