On Wednesday, Nov. 6, from 2 to 4 p.m., members of the Center for Leadership and Service (CLS) and other student volunteers set up tables in the atrium of the Miron Student Center (MSC) to encourage Kean University students to register to vote - and to provide the necessary information and paperwork for registration.
The table gathered young students, who are often registering for the first time, to educate them about the electoral process as well as the power and importance of their vote is a vital part of any university community. New Jersey's primary vote in the 2020 presidential race will take place on June 2, 2020, and the general election will follow on Nov. 3, 2020.
One tabling volunteer, Isabelle Zapytowski, a freshman sociology major who registered for the first time at an earlier registering table, indicated that from the early sample size, many of those registering were commuter students. This illustrates a lot of the value of the university promoting student involvement in the electoral process. The community at Kean is fostering that students who might not otherwise have had a convenient window into the process or access to all the information they would like, can easily get registered and begin to research important political matters before the 2020 elections.
Francesca Merlino, a freshman journalism major, also tabling for the afternoon, described, "It's very important that this generation starts to vote because we are voting for our future, and we should have a say in how our future pans out."
Those sentiments could not be more true. According to a Pew study of 2016 election voters, nearly 62 million people under 36 (millennials) were eligible to vote, representing about 27 percent of the U.S. electorate; this is nearly equal to the largest, pool, the Baby Boomers (aged 52 to 70), who comprise 31 percent of voters, and a much larger group than the Silent Generation or Generation X. However, only about 51 percent of millennials voted - 10 percent less than the national average (61 percent).
The discrepancy between the number of young people who are eligible to vote and those who exercise their right, translates to less representation and defense of their values in the government. It is important that universities like Kean and all around the country provide all of the resources and information available to promote how imperative voting registration and election participation is. Because the majority of university students fall into the millennial and post-millennial groups, the involvement of those groups can be hugely improved by voting and registration campaigns on campuses.
Further, the percentage of voter turnout among millennials grew to 51 percent in 2016 from 46 percent in 2012. As with every gap between cycles, the four years since the 2016 election will mean hundreds of thousands, or millions, of post-Millennial voters are eligible for the first time.
At Kean students have a great opportunity to learn and get involved in their local and larger communities. In the world of politics, that can mean the difference in a town, a state or a whole country.