Oct 2nd, 2018, 06:41 PM

Get Out and Vote

By Forrest Crellin
Image Credit: Annie Bolin/Unsplash
Image Credit: Annie Bolin/Unsplash
The 2018 mid-term election is the most important in recent memory, so AUP students should register before the October 6 deadline.

It's impossible to avoid the headlines. Child detention centers. Kavanaugh. The list keeps growing. Every day it seems there is new front page news and social media bursts about the US Commander-in-Chief, and, by extension, the senators who help him govern. For all eligible voters at AUP, November will offer you a chance to declare whether you agree with the policies of those in power, or whether you want a change in leadership.

VoteFromAbroad.org, a non-partisan NGO that has partnered with AUP's student government, will hold one last sign-up event on October 4 in the Combes lobby. Registration will begin at 6:30 p.m. and go until 8:30 p.m. You can also register online by following the simple steps outlined on VoteFromAbroad.org's site after clicking on request a ballot.

AUP President Celeste Schenck has been a vocal supporter of the get out and vote campaign run by student government, and encourages everyone to both register and self-educate on their local candidates and issues. Voting in the mid-terms can be a daunting task, especially when faced with an eight-page ballot that covers a host of issues and positions, but students are encouraged to not shy away from the research.

Image Credit: Mirah Cruzer/Unsplash

Constance Borde, the current Democrats Abroad DNC representative, explained how important it is for young people to exercise their right to vote. She discussed how first or second time voters may feel apathetic about casting a ballot, or that the amount of work involved that could dissuade some voters is crucial to a healthy democracy. She said, "The fact is that the vote does matter. Everybody's vote matters."

"I have a feeling that [young people] are smarter than some of the older voters, some of the people my age," Representative Borde said. "They shouldn't be cynical. There is hope."

President Schenck laments the growing virulence between both the Republicans and the Democrats, and their willingness to put the country at risk to score political points. Instead of focusing on wedge issues, President Schenck sees the diversity of the University as a benefit to what she calls an "free market of ideas", and encourages students not to rally around a political party but to engage in constructive debates with one another. 

Pointing to several cases, Representative Borde gave examples of how votes from abroad can actually swing an election. She cited the recently retired Senator Al Franken from Minnesota, who was locked in a virtual tie with his competitor until all the overseas votes were counted and he won by only a few hundred ballots. Representative Borde is excited for the upcoming generation of voters, saying that this is probably the first time in her history of working with Democrats Abroad, which goes back to the mid-1970s, that she has seen young people organized and eager to vote, coming to the offices and emailing, asking how they can get involved and get registered. 

"I have a feeling that [young people] are smarter than some of the older voters, some of the people my age," Representative Borde said. "They shouldn't be cynical. There is hope."

Numbers from the Pew Research center show how important it is to practice your hard-won voting rights. Only 49.4 percent of eligible Millenial voters polled by the Pew research center voted in the 2016 election, and mid-term elections are historically off years for voter turn out. If every eligible voter registered and then cast a ballot in 2018 then Millenials would have the power to sway the election. In a study by the Brookings research institute using the data from CIRCLE, a non-partisan research center, they found that youth voters are more likely to identify with a liberal ideology as compared to the Democratic party, with a total of 35% of young voters identifying as independent in 2016. The Democratic party seems to be influenced by the trend, with record numbers of farther left-wing candidates running in 2018.

There are three main issues that Representative Borde sees young Democrat voters rallying around. Women's rights is a big issue, she said, talking about the self organized women's marches and the #MeToo movement. Gun control is another issue that young voters have taken into their own hands, with high schoolers organizing marches and rallies to hopefully influence legislation that will stop the school shootings. The environment, too, seems to be an important issue galvanizing the youth vote.