Though presidential elections are rarely cordial affairs, the 2016 presidential election has been particularly contentious. With the commencement of the primary presidential campaigns just over a year ago, the American public has been in the throes of one of the most divisive presidential election cycles in recent history. For students on college campuses nationwide, the civic duty of suffrage is of overwhelming interest, as it is the first presidential election that many students are of age to participate in.
The novelty of the act aside, young people have traditionally been the least dependable voting demographic. This is unfortunate because in 2013 the Pew Research Center provided that those aged 18 to 33 accounted for over a quarter of age-eligible voters. Despite their youth, millennials have power and influence. Every Presidential election cycle, political experts note the importance and leverage that young people have on the election outcome; however, these predictions of influence are only hypothetical, as youth turnout has historically been significantly below their demographically older counterparts. According to a report issued by the United States Census Bureau in 2012, presidential election voter turnout for people aged 18 to 24 has not reached 50 percent since the early 1970s. In fact, the only recent presidential election that has spurred young people to turn out and vote in substantial numbers was the presidential election of 2008, where Barack Obama excited millennials with messages of hope and change. Although those values are not prevalent in the platforms of this year’s candidates, young adults are not excused from their civic duty to vote.
Subsequently, the University of Redlands has recognized the importance of the millennial vote and has provided for its student body a series of voter-specific events in order to educate and inspire youth participation in suffrage. ASUR has organized several events to relay to students various information about the upcoming election. This information has been provided in an email that was sent to the student body titled “Rah Rah Voter Registration Information and Events.”
Registration is the number one indicator that a person will vote in an election, but many young people are not registered because the process of registration can feel complicated and abstract. This is especially true for out-of-state students who may not know their registration status and/or the process of submitting an absentee ballot. In-state and out-of-state students alike should visit the website www.vote.org to check their registration status, to register to vote, and, for those students not from California, to obtain an absentee ballot. For students who are residents of the state of California, the last day for registration is Oct. 24, and the nearest polling station is located on campus in the Orton Center.
Additionally, for those who have questions regarding the process of voting, students can find a table outside of the commons during lunch every Wednesday with registration and absentee ballot information. The American Association of University Women (AAUW), will also be stationed at a table during lunch outside of the commons every Wednesday for next three weeks, intending to give women-specific voter registration information. These informational tables combined with other campus sponsored events, are all geared to educate and assist students in order to be informed voters come Nov. 8.
The Leadership Lunch Series, a roughly biweekly program of speakers provides an avenue for self-education on election-relevant topics. Beginning Sept. 28 on the first floor of Hunsaker with a presentation on economic issues, the lunch series will continue with talks on juvenile justice reform on Oct. 13 and immigration issues on Oct. 26, all of which are emphasized in this election. Furthermore, to observe the presidential and vice presidential candidates discuss their goals and policies, there will be showings of the debates, 6-7:30 p.m, in Student Life and Involvement Center (SLIC), on the 2nd floor of Hunsaker. The first and only Vice Presidential debate will be aired Tuesday, October 4th, followed by 2 additional Presidential debates on Oct. 9 and 19.
The right to vote is only as important as we make use of it, and in a presidential election, millennials have influence that we should exercise. College students should make America feel our collective weight and exert our influence over the future of our country. Get out to vote this November; your future depends on it!