It is widely known that young people are a group prone to political apathy. While Obama’s candidacy in 2008 led to an increase in political engagement, ultimately the trend remains — young voters are less likely to vote than older ones.
Yet here at UR, impressive efforts are being undertaken to reverse this trend. This most recent election season was a testament to these efforts. This year marked the beginning of a number of new initiatives on campus intended to increase participation in the political process by UR students.
Overall, while voter registration initiatives still have a long way to go in the coming years, the efforts taken recently are worthy of admiration and praise.
R World R Vote, a nonpartisan student initiative with goals of increasing political engagement and participation among UR students, is not a new organization. For the last couple years, the organization has taken on projects such as hosting nonpartisan panel discussions on healthcare. However, this year it increased focus on voter registration coupled and created a sub-sect group called UR Voters, giving it had a more tangible and noticeable impact.
During freshman orientation, 60 new freshmen were registered to vote thanks to the efforts of R World R Vote and more students were registered throughout the semester leading up to Election Day.
Additionally, UR Voters made strides in ensuring that the voter registration process went on without a hitch, introducing a process of tracking registration forms so that students would not be held up by bureaucratic difficulties on polling day.
Also introduced on campus this election season were UR Election Fellows, a group of 50 students who were sent out the community to work polling places on Election Day. The initiative proved to be a successful way of increasing political awareness and bringing UR students into the local political process.
It is disheartening to see that only two years after the huge turnout of youth voters in 2008, voter apathy remains an issue among young people, including UR students. However, organizations such as R World R Vote, UR Voters and Election Fellows are making a laudable effort to work against these odds to create an atmosphere of political participation on campus.