In the 2014 midterm election, 19.9 percent of people under the age of 30 nationwide voted, according to civicyouth.org. In the 2012 presidential election, 45 percent in the same demographic voted.
At Temple Student Government, Aron Cowen, director of government affairs, is determined to raise both of those numbers.
TSG has a two-pronged approach to voting, Cowen said. They aim to get people registered to vote and also try to get them in touch with local legislators to show students their votes count.
“We ran voter registration drives in dorms and at the Bell Tower,” Cowen said. “We are also hosting a ‘contact your legislator’ drive to show people that their votes really do matter.”
Cowen believes voting is an important life skill as well as a responsibility students should learn during their time at Temple.
“One of the things you do after college is vote,” Cowen said. “We have a unique perspective as students and it’s nice to share our perspective.”
Cowen said TSG has no preference where students are registered to vote, just as long as they are signed up. In August, Gov. Tom Wolf announced registering in Pennsylvania could be done online. The website, run by the state government, is designed to be simple to navigate, user-friendly and aims to help more people vote.
This cuts down on the amount of hassle that goes into voting and makes it “an easy and streamlined process,” Cowen said.
Vice President of External Affairs Binh Nguyen said educating students on the voting process is vital.
“We want students to be informed in the voting process,” Nguyen said. “We really want students to be informed and active in the community.”
Cowen added this education is the key to voting.
“I think it’s important for students to be aware what is going on in the world around them,” Cowen said. “Hit Google News for five minutes every day and I think that makes a real difference.”
TSG works with organizations on and off campus to find different ways to motivate students to vote.
“We have been working closely on how we can encourage students more and get them registered,” Nyugen said. “We partnered with and got some advice from CEEP [Campus Election Engagement Project]. Along with that, we’re pairing up with Paley Library to try and increase civic engagement with voting.”
TSG believes registration is where they can have the largest effect in the voting process because it enables people to vote.
Cowen said online registration will increase voting because registering was more difficult before.
He added every vote matters in every election. TSG maintains the same goal for each election, regardless of the magnitude.
“It’s really important to get involved, your voice really does matter,” Cowan said. So I want to encourage every student to go out and make your voice heard.”
Jonathan Gilbert can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @jonnygilbs96.