2020 marks a century since American women's fight for suffrage brought about the 19th Amendment. 2020 also marks a century since the last election that followed a devastating pandemic, and the introduction of millions of young Americans between 18 and 22 years old into the voting population. It will be the fifty-ninth presidential election since the nation declared independence, but only be the twenty-fifth in which all Americans will be afforded the right to vote promised in the Constitution. With every election cycle, but perhaps more so this year than ever before, the right and obligation of every American to vote becomes clearer.
Many of Kean's students will be registering and voting for the first time this fall, like many students around the country. The university and its organizations are committed to promoting awareness of voting procedures and deadlines, as well as important news and candidacy information that can help first-time voters' civic awareness and involvement.
Tuesday, Sept. 22 is National Voter Registration Day - an non-partisan effort to promote registrations nationwide. The Center for Leadership and Service will host National Voter Registration Day registrations in person, outdoors from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. Students are encouraged to visit the event to register, update their registration, get information about their local polls and any other information they need to prepare to vote.
Using national and local media, social media and teams of volunteers and organizations throughout the communities, campuses, businesses and elsewhere, National Voter Registration Day, a collective by the same name, has encouraged almost 3 million to register since its inception in 2012, and intends its biggest turnout yet to be this year.
Through Cougar Link, students can sign in and be immediately re-directed to TurboVote, another non-partisan site that's helping voters to get registered and stay updated on all the information they need to make sure their votes are cast. TurboVote asks for the name used on voters' IDs, then offers to help them get registered, confirm their voting address and their registration, choose between voting by mail or at the polls and redirects to the Department of State's New Jersey Division of Elections to confirm that they're ready to vote. TurboVote offers to re-direct voters further to Democracy Works' How To Vote Alerts, which helps keep them up-to-date with voting procedures and deadlines in their states.
Also on Sept. 22, the Human Rights Institute (HRI) and the Department of History will host An Inalienable Right: A National Constitution Day Conversation on Voting in the U.S. from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. via Zoom. The discussion will highlight critical historical and present matters about voting - particularly apt as National Voter Registration Day also follows Constitution Day (Sept. 17). The HRI will follow the event with Issues Night: Voter Suppression, a conversation about the presence of voting as a right or a privilege, on Wednesday, Sept. 23 from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m., also through Zoom.
Many voters are anticipated to vote by mail this fall, as COVID-19 has made health a chief concern - but with an abundance of resources available through the state and local municipalities and organizations, voting by mail is a safe, secure and convenient way to ensure every voter's choices are represented.
In an April report by the Pew Research Center, Millennials (considered those born between 1981 and 1996) have surpassed Baby Boomers as America's most populous generation. Other research shows youngest voters, members of Gen Z (born after 1996), have climbed from just 4% of eligible voters to 10% in just one election cycle. This means that more than ever, the nation's electoral results rest in the hands of young voters. However, data also shows that Millennial and Gen Z eligible voters are among the least active groups when the polls open. All of these registration efforts intend to counteract that, so that the younger generations' voices are heard.
New Jersey's voter registration deadline in-person and online is Tuesday, Oct. 13. Those registering by mail must have their registration postmarked by Oct. 13. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3.
For more information about National Voter Registration Day, the organization's website features resources for communication, education, and registration. Individuals and organizations are welcomed to join their get-out-the-vote efforts as well.
For more about National Voter Registration Day at Kean, and other related events, contact the Center for Leadership and Service via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at (908) 737-5170 or in person at the Miron Student Center, Room 219 by appointment only.