Student at SUNY New Paltz reading a voter registration form distributed by NYPIRG.
"They," of course, refers to Republicans. "We" refers to every person who believes the right to vote is fundamental.
Voter suppression isn't something that only happens to black people, Latinos, women, immigrants, the transgendered, the elderly, and the disabled.
Republicans in legislatures across the nation don't want young people to vote. They are specifically targeting students at universities and colleges across the nation.
Gee, wonder why that is? I'm sure you can figure it out—instantly.
As Catherine Rampell wrote:
First they came for blacks, and we said nothing. Then they came for Latinos, poor people and married women, and we again ignored the warning signs. Now, after our years of apathy, they’re coming for us: the nation’s millennials.
Across the country, Republican state policy makers have hoisted barriers to voting by passing voter-ID laws and curtailing electoral accommodations such as same-day registration and early voting. These policy changes are allegedly intended to eradicate the imagined scourge of voter fraud, but the real point seems to be voter suppression.
For a time, the targeted populations were primarily racial, ethnic and income groups that traditionally vote Democratic. Now they happen to include Gen-Y’ers, more specifically my college-age brethren. We millennials may be fickle in our loyalties, distrustful of government institutions and unaligned with any political party, but our generation’s motley, liberal-to-libertarian-leaning ideological preferences still threaten red-state leadership. In response, Republicans have set out to erect creative, if potentially unconstitutional, Tough-Mudder-style obstacle courses along our path to the polls.
Contrary to the popular media depictions of youthful apathy, there are a host of groups across the county, in communities, and on campuses who are fighting back against restrictive bills and getting young folks registered.
Young people are fighting back. Follow below the fold for more.
Who can forget Molly McDonough talking about her decision to get arrested in the Moral Mondays movement in North Carolina?
Molly McDonough turned 18 a few days after the 2012 election. She was arrested during a demonstration at the North Carolina state capitol to ensure that her right to vote is protected. Among a slew of new laws intended to restrict voting rights in North Carolina is an astonishingly cynical law aimed to limit the vote of college students. The parents of students who vote in North Carolina will be penalized on their tax returns, unless the students return home to cast their ballots.
So, if Molly feels more connected to the community surrounding North Carolina State University than she does to the community in which she grew up, or, if she does not have a car and traveling is difficult, or, if she has classes on that day and making a trip across the state would mean missing one of them, her parents will be penalized if she decides to exercise her Constitutional right to vote.
Groups that work to register young voters are non-partisan, but efforts to block youth registrations are clearly partisan. Efforts to get young people registered involve both doing the outreach and fighting back against restrictive legislation submitted to legislatures and being passed across the U.S.
In 2012, The Fair Elections Legal Network
launched a nationwide effort to defend and engage student voting—the Campus Vote Project
College students face special challenges when attempting to register and vote in their college communities. They lack information about voter registration rules and deadlines, do not have acceptable ID for voter registration or voting purposes, are confused about where to vote, may not have transportation to the polls, and occasionally are confronted by unfriendly or unsympathetic elections officials or poll workers.
The organization provides a handy downloadable tool kit
, to give a step-by-step guide to increasing student activism.
The group's General Student Voting Guide answers questions often raised by students like:
Will voting in my college community affect my federal financial aid?
Will I lose my scholarship if I register to vote in my college community?
Will registering to vote in my college community affect my driver’s license or car registration?
Does being an instate or out-of-state student for tuition purposes affect my right to vote?
There are specific guidelines for each state, which can be seen here
. For example, here is the one for my home state, New York
. These guidelines are crucial to check in some states, given recent changes in voter ID laws.
Examples of schools are provided where student engagement activities are already taking place.
Examples of best practices include:
The University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges all provide the option to fill out a voter registration form to students when they enroll/register online for classes.
Michigan State University has a website dedicated to voting issues which includes information about voter registration, absentee ballot requests, deadlines and dates, and links to forms.
The University of Oregon allows students to access residence halls at pre-agreed times to conduct voter registration activities.
Temple University has links to the National Voter Registration Form and the Pennsylvania Voter Registration form on its Student Forms webpage.
The University of Florida has links available to both the Florida form and the national form on its Integrated Student Information System (ISIS) website. This means students will see links to voter registration forms every time they login to their student homepage.
Another effort is the Campus Election Engagement Project
Campus Election Engagement Project (CEEP) is a national nonpartisan project that helps America's colleges and universities get as many of their 20 million students as possible to register, volunteer in campaigns, educate themselves, and turn out at the polls. Focusing on how administrators, faculty, staff, and student leaders can help engage their students, we worked with 500 schools in 2008 and over 750 in 2012! We're now working to engage students in important mid-term elections.
The organization's 2014 Vote Map
is a handy way to find out which schools are engaged in your area, which are not (you can start something), and who you can hook-up with.
CEEP also provides a list of links to other organizations engaged in getting out the youth vote.
Coral Breuer describes her experience working with CEEP:
Want to hear a stellar example of CEEP's nonpartisan approach making an impact? Curious to see how CEEP can help your campus engage in elections? Get the inside scoop from Coral Breuer, Ohio Campus Compact's 2012 CEEP outreach staffer. Coral's video describes how she worked with Ohio's campuses to connect campuses and communities, and helped schools use election engagement resources and approaches gathered from campuses nationwide. Coral and our other Ohio outreach staffer Brenna Limbrinck helped schools register their students, educate them on issues and candidates, and helped them participate at the polls. In 2012, Coral and Brenna worked with 36 campuses intensively and distributed materials to another 46, with a combined total enrollment of 605,000 students.
On my campus at a state university in New York, every semester an organizer from the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) comes into the classroom to distribute voter registration forms to students, answer questions, and to get them engaged in lobbying. There are Student PIRGS
in 15 states.
NYPIRG's Voter Project
NYPIRG SUNY New Paltz campus coordinator Eric Wood, explains how to fill out voter registration forms to students
Voter Mobilization Project: For more than 30 years, one of NYPIRG’s top priorities has been to register and mobilize student voters and engage them to reach out to their peers to encourage participation in the democratic process. The goal of NYPIRG’s non-partisan voter mobilization project is to teach students how to raise the volume of the student voice by registering thousands of new voters, encouraging these new voters to turn out at the polls, and protecting the rights of citizens at the polls.
Voter Registration Campaign: Each year NYPIRG campus chapters embark on a multi-faceted, non-partisan, campus-wide voter registration drive. Annually, NYPIRG organizers and students have registered tens of thousands of students to vote statewide. Students reach out to other clubs, faculty, administration, and engage students by setting up tables in high traffic areas of campus. They educate other students about eligibility requirements for registration and information about deadlines. All voter registration forms are hand-delivered by the NYPIRG project coordinator. If you would like to register to vote at any point during the year, stop by your NYPIRG office.
Get Out the Vote (GOTV): During the weeks leading up to election day, students working with NYPIRG make an all-out effort to increase visibility about the elections, making sure that students know when they are happening and where they can vote. Posters are hung, calls are made, and announcements sent to the media, among other things. Students and staff also setup an election day hotline, so they can answer any questions that arise during election day, including poll site locations.
There are also groups targeting youth in specific ethnic groups. Voto Latino
has been engaging young Latinos across the nation, on and off campus:
Voto Latino is a nonpartisan organization that empowers Latino Millennials to claim a better future for themselves and their community. United by the belief that Latino issues are American issues and American issues are Latino issues, Voto Latino is dedicated to bringing new and diverse voices to develop leaders by engaging youth, media, technology and celebrities to promote positive change.
Why it Matters
• There are roughly 15 million American Latino youth in the U.S., but only a small fraction vote.
• 50% of all eligible Latino voters are under 40 and 33% are between 18 and 34.
• By 2050, Latino youth are expected to comprise 29% of the U.S. youth population.
• 66,000 American Latinos turn 18 every month.
• 90% of American Latinos under 29 consume information in English.
• Latinos make up more than 10% of the electorate in 11: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada and Texas.
Rosario Dawson reported from a Voto Latino summit held on the campus at Florida International University:
Young people, on campus and off, have been mobilized for over two decades through the efforts of Rock the Vote.
Take a look at the organization's history:
Rock the Vote is the largest non-profit and non-partisan organization in the United States driving the youth vote to the polls. Fusing pop culture, politics, and technology, Rock the Vote works to mobilize the millennial voting bloc and the youth vote, protect voting rights, and advocate for an electoral process and voting system that works for the 21st century electorate.
Since 1990, Rock the Vote has revolutionized the use of pop culture, music, art and technology to inspire political activity. Now, for almost 25 years, Rock the Vote has pioneered ways to make voting easier by simplifying and demystifying voter registration and elections for young adults.
Like many organizations, Rock the Vote is gearing up for National Voter Registration Day, September 23:
Every election, millions of Americans don’t vote because they forget to register or miss their state’s voter registration deadline.
This year, we’re calling their bluff.
Join us on September 23, 2014 for a day of action and awareness as we celebrate the third annual National Voter Registration Day. We are partnering with hundreds of volunteers, artists, organizations, campuses, and even elected officials from all over the country to register voters before the 2014 elections.
But we can’t do it without you. Will you help us make National Voter Registration Day the biggest holiday of 2014?
Spread the word. Check out the National Voter Registration Day
Adults can and must play a major part in assisting these efforts. Take time out to see what these groups are doing and find out how you can help. For Daily Kos members, check out and follow the new group on our site: GOTV 2014.