The elections have passed and Democrats are left wondering how to improve for 2012 and beyond. Everywhere I’ve read is that they are starting the fight now rather than waiting like we did in 2008. In that case let me bring home my own point that I believe we need to work on. (More)
But first some recent history.
After the insanity following the 2000 election in Florida, many states tried to improve the voting process. Many now allow early voting and make it easier to vote by mail. But most people still vote on election day itself, often because they don’t think of it until then. An article in the The Oracle, my college newspaper, caught my eye and revealed something I not considered.
Many USF students were eager to vote in Tuesday’s midterm elections. However, frustration arose when some were turned away from campus polling locations because they were not registered to vote in the precincts that were represented.
On election day itself, the free edition of the St. Petersburg Times ran an article about how young voters tend to be most progressive. While they discuss less educated young voters, I still know that many college students are still very progressive, even though we do have our college Republican counterparts. What we need them is to make it easier for college students to vote.
Early voting in my county can be done at any designated early voting location, no matter your election day precinct. According to The Oracle, the main campus of USF serves 55,000 combined students, faculty and staff, not including visitors, on any given day. Not all of them live in Hillsborough County, where the campus is located, but enough do that USF should be an early voting location. And the same should be true of any major college campus.
In this day and age, where a majority of races in 2010 were decided by 2% or less, we need to consider not only how we get out the vote to get people to vote but also how we can make voting more accessible, especially to college students who can have some of the oddest hours around. So I will call my Supervisor of Elections this week to see what will be required to make USF an early voting site. Considering that USF hosted two political debates, and that President Obama and other leaders made stump speeches at campuses across the nation, it makes sense that campuses should host early voting.
Moreover, if as a country we are worried about the youth vote not caring, then we should try to get them to start voting. Making major college campuses early voting location, in states that allow early voting, will make it easier for college students to vote. This promotes civic responsibility and builds good civic habits. And yes, it will also increase Democratic turnout.
If we really believe every voter matters – and we should – we must make it easier for every voter to vote. Even college students.