From left to right: Mary Franklin, Vivian Afuwah, Roslin Spinger and Armenta Weekes. Photo credit: Anthony Andrews.
By Tuwanna Vassell and Richard Heaton
Not all college students vote, or are even registered to begin with. Some might think their vote won’t make a difference or they simply don’t care for the process. If this describes you, the sudden surge in young voters may cause you to change your mind about voting.
Years ago all votes were cast by old white men, but every year the voting roles has become more and more diversified. Today, young adults are beginning to make a stand with their votes.
In a poll conducted by Harvard’s Institute of Politics, 51 percent of young democrats ages 19 to 29 reported that they were “definitely” going to vote in the upcoming November elections representing a nine percent increase compared to November of last year.
New York set an unprecedented voter turnout record in the September gubernatorial primary elections with 1.5 million votes cast, nearly three times more than the ballots cast in the 2014 elections, the Gothamist reported.
Minnesota also set another record with new voter registration. The Star Tribune said that the number of new registrants is more than double that of the 2014 voter tally and that more than two-thirds of the new registered voters are between the ages of 18 and 30.
Over the years, more college students have been taking the initiative to vote. In the last election The New York Times said there were big increases in student turnout in the tri-state area. More colleges have been encouraging their students to vote so that they have an input in government.
One way colleges get more students involved in the elections is through the use of incentives and special events. On Sept. 26 York College gave out pins and buttons on National Voter Registration Day to entice students to register to vote. Between 50 and 60 students registered to vote that day according to Anthony Andrews, the Student Government advisor at York College.
“In order to appeal to young people we have to find ways to influence and encourage them to vote,” said Andrews. “When Obama was running we had hip hop stars like P. Diddy and other celebrities create Rock the Vote.”
Who’s out there pushing for young people to vote?” asked Andrews who also emphasized that most college professors are very influential on students’ political views.
In a survey done at York College’s campus over 60 percent of the students ages 18 to 26 said they are registered to vote, with 40 percent being recently registered this year. More than half of them are Democrats, 43 percent of them are undecided and 13 percent are independent.
“I would be very happy to see the democrats win the house because it would finally give room for Donald Trump to be investigated as he should be,” said Anayka Sheperd, 20, a Psychology major at Brooklyn College. “There are way too many scandals and other things he’s been accused of and I feel like the Republicans are ignoring it and American citizens want answers.”
Sheperd isn’t registered to vote but said she intended to register and vote.
Since the Parkland High School shooting in February, the survivors organized the “March For Our Lives” in order to reach a larger audience of young people and to demand change in government.
CNN said that the Parkland students have largely been focusing on gun control and legislation, encouraging young people to vote for the 2018 midterm elections and hold politicians accountable— specifically those in power who are pro-gun rights.
“I would not want the Republicans to control both the House of Representatives and the Senate because they don’t emulate what I believe democracy should be,” said Jamel Robinson, 21, a registered voter and alumni of Medgar Evers College.