Students Take First Step To Voting

National Voter Registration Day at Kean

Campus Life > Students Take First Step To Voting
Amanda Petty

Tuesday, September 27, 2016, was reserved as National Voter Registration Day. Kean University and the Center for Leadership and Service (CLS) acknowledges and supports the importance of voting.

All over campus that day there were voter registration tables, and students could fill out paperwork to become part of the voting community. Registration took place at:

  • Maxine and Jack Lane Center for Academic Success (CAS) Atrium from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

  • Miron Student Center (MSC) Atrium from 12 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

  • Nancy Thompson Library Lobby from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

    Approximately 300 Kean University students registered to vote that day. The CLS decided to take part in National Registration Day because many non-voters tend to think "my vote won't make a difference, so it doesn't matter." CLS wants to rid students of this mindset, to realize their opinion, their voice and their vote does matter. Who will decide the next President of the United States? Voters.              

                                  Students do not necessarily know "how much voting is rewarding," stated Janelle Shepherd, a Service Specialist for CLS and junior psychology major. CLS wanted to "ask students to make a difference."

    This is why tables were set up and forms distributed, to allow students to become aware of their importance as citizens and, ultimately, as voters.

    What if a student was not able to stop at a registration table, but still wishes to take the first step towards becoming a voter? Kean University is making sure it provides its students, faculty and staff plenty of opportunities to register. The registration form for New Jersey is made available at several locations throughout the university:

  • Center for Leadership and Service (CLS), MSC room 219

  • Disability Services, Downs Hall room 122

  • Harwood Arena Information Desk

  • CAS Information Desk

  • MSC Information Desk

  • One Stop Service Center, Administration Building first floor

  • Office of Residential Student Services, Whitman Hall room 8

  • Office of Student Affairs, Kean Hall room 124

  • Student Health Services, Downs Hall room 126

  • Office of Student Government, MSC room 309

    Keep in mind the deadline to register is Tuesday, October 18, 2016.

                                    Why is it important for students to register?

    Young adults, or millennials, are the majority of the country's population, for the first time surpassing Generation X and Baby Boomers in numbers. In terms of voting, it is believed that winner of the 2016 election will ultimately be determined by voters who are between the ages of 18 to 34 (as reported by Pew Research Center). 

    Need more information?

    One of the most common reasons for young adults not registering is lack of knowledge of the process. This is why Rock the Vote was created.

    Rock the Vote is a hub of information pertaining to voting and is intended for young adults. It is nonprofit and nonpartisan, which means Rock the Vote does not try to swindle votes from people for any particular party. People can visit the site without being influenced towards the Democratic, Republican or another party's candidate.

    The website simplistically offers the registration form. On the homepage there is a section in which a person can fill out the following: first and last name, email and residing state. The website will redirect the webpage to the correct registration form. After spending a few minutes filling it out, an individual can walk away proudly as a voter that has just taken the first step in having his/her voice heard on Election Day.                                      

    Rock the Vote also offers individuals the means to find out if they are already registered, where and how to vote, the absentee voting process and up-to-date news articles and polls. People can also see a list of celebrities who endorse Rock the Vote's message or purchase Rock the Vote garb.

    The New Jersey Division of Elections (NJDE) is another website that can be of use during election season.

    The full voting process is laid out, guiding voters and potential voters to the correct area of information they wish to acquire. The website covers categories such as voter registration and voting, and information on the candidates, counties and election.

    There is even a section for documents frequently downloaded, making it that much easier to obtain the following forms: register to vote, absentee ballot and declaring a political affiliation.

    What about individuals doubting if they are or are not registered this year? NJDE's website has a large patriotic-colored button that reads, "Am I Registered?" Simply click on it, enter the required information and, in less than one minute, an individual will know if he or she is a registered voter.

                      A voter not sure where he or she is eligible to cast a ballot on Election Day? There is a "Where do I vote" button that voters click, provide the necessary information and will then be informed of exact locations available to them.

    It can be confusing at this point in the election process as all the information and dates being hurled at voters becomes muddled. The NJDE realizes this and has taken steps to clearly and concisely outline everything dealing with the election and voting. On the website there is a section that lists all important dates, such as when each form is due and when the polls open on the second Tuesday in November.

    Not only will Americans be voting for the next president and vice president, but also candidates running for local positions. Make sure to check out who else will be on the ballot because the local victors will be the ones to directly affect voters' lives. Candidates running for local positions can be found on NJDE's website and each town's individual website.

    For Shepherd, the right to register symbolizes this country's history and what it took to get to where it is now.

    In the past, not every gender or race were permitted to cast ballots. This is a relatively new development. Women gained the right in 1920, all Native Americans in 1947, African Americans in 1965 and Latinos in the 1970s.

    "America's gone a long way to make sure everyone has the right to's better to exercise [this right] than to neglect [it]," she commented.

about the author

Amanda Petty is double majoring in English-writing and communication studies while also pursuing a minor in marketing. Amanda has been a member of The Cougar's Byte, as an Editor and now Senior Editor, since Fall 2014. In her senior year at Kean University, she is excited to strive after a career in book publishing. The ultimate goal is to go into the editorial department, ideally working with young adult fiction.