Your vote matters: students rally for voter registration

by Raneen El-Barbarawi / Staff Reporter

Tabling event encouraging students to register to vote. Photo by Raneen El-Barbarawi.

To increase voter registration turnout and make it easier for Americans to register to vote, President Bill Clinton passed the Voter Registration Act of 1993, also known as the “NVRA” and the “Motor Voter Act.” Since then, colleges and universities have encouraged students between the ages of 18 and 29 to register to vote. 

Sariah Bolden, 19, a sophomore majoring in history, held a tabling event in the Wabash cafeteria on the second floor of Roosevelt. This was held in partnership with She Votes Illinois, a statewide organization that empowers women to get more involved in politics through civic engagement, activism, voting and working on campaigns. The event was held on Tuesday, Nov. 12, and Thursday, Nov. 14 between 12 to 2 p.m. to register students to vote for the primary and general election in 2020 by filling out an application.

“The 2020 election is a really crucial election in my history, at least, and I think a lot of history going on… so if you aren’t equipped to be able to register to vote, then we literally have it here for you this week so there’s no excuse not to register,” said Bolden.

Bolden explained that this was an ongoing project for her gender justice class in which she must present through a powerpoint and paper.

Indeed, the primary election in Illinois is set to take place on Mar. 17, 2020 and the general presidential election is set to take place on Nov. 3, 2020, as stated by the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

“People from the ages of 18 to 24 have the lowest voter turnout, which is crazy, so I wanted to do a voter registration drive to get more people that are our age to at least be registered to vote because that’ll motivate them to vote in the next election,” said Bolden.

According to the U.S Census Bureau, 72 percent of eligible voters aged 65 or older cast a ballot in the 2012 presidential election, while only 45 percent of eligible voters aged 18 to 29 did the same.

“It’s very important for people to make their opinions heard. I think it’ll make a big difference in this world depending on who’s in office and who we’re voting for so I think that everyone should vote,” said Keith Franklin, a senior majoring in business and marketing at Robert Morris University.

“I think the biggest difficulty with voting is some people really don’t want to vote because they don’t agree with what the candidates are saying or what they have to offer,” said Franklin, who explained that he didn’t register in the past because he was lazy. However, he said that he’s now registered and ready to vote.

“I feel like now, especially with the way things are going, a lot of people don’t agree with politicians, and if you don’t agree with them, you have the ability to change that and that is through voting,” Bolden added.

“I think it’s important to get the young people out to vote, because their voices should be heard. They have a lot of great ideas, but they’re underrepresented,” said Stephanie Sims, a board member and full-time volunteer at She Votes Illinois and other organizations located in Chicago, IL.

“If you’re able to vote, please do it. It’s so important,” said Bolden. “Your vote matters… Let’s change the idea that people our age don’t care about these things because we do.”

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