How to Make Voting Accessible to Students

By Brooke Caldwell, Ciera L’Huillier & Grace Prust

 

It is that time of year when voters receive all the political text messages and television advertisements. The election is just around the corner, and it is important for students to know their options when it comes to voting.

It can be difficult to vote when students are away at school. The Wisconsin Elections Commission has provided some insight into how voting can be accessible. Video by: Wisconsin Elections Commission

Maybe a student does not know how to register to vote or where to even vote in the first place. Some may not know that they are able to request an absentee ballot as well. After speaking with the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay (UWGB) professors, more insight was provided into how students can practice their civic duties. Now is the time to bring awareness to the topic and encourage students to register and vote in the upcoming elections because their voice matters. If change is what some students wish to see, casting a vote is the way that their thoughts and opinions can be heard.

Dr. Aaron Weinschenk, a professor in Political Science at UWGB, expressed how underrepresented the age demographic of 18-24 is in elections. Weinschenk said, “Young people move around a lot (moving to college, moving for a job, etc.), and they have to re-register any time they move (and the requirements vary from state to state).” This poses an inconvenience to students. Weinschenk also recommended that the campus provide more opportunities for students to get involved in civic engagement. “We could show students different resources for political information, bring in relevant guest speakers, help people register to vote, etc.,” said Weinschenk. Adding these extra resources and events could increase engagement in future elections.

Dr. Jon Shelton, a professor in Democracy and Justice Professor at UWGB, said that more people tend to vote when the stakes of an election are high. …[H]istorically, young people have voted in higher numbers when the stakes of the election are very clear in terms of issues they care about.” Shelton mentioned that younger voters might have a greater interest in voting in the midterm election due to the Dobbs decision that occurred over the summer. Some individuals may strongly feel “…motivated to vote in this election because they feel their lives will be directly impacted by which party is in control in this state now that reproductive rights have effectively been turned over to individual states,” said Shelton.

It can be overwhelming to vote when students don’t know what to expect. The Wisconsin Elections Commission has provided a walk-through of what to anticipate at polling locations. Video by: Wisconsin Elections Commission

Engaging students into topics and issues that they care about could be a potential way to encourage young adults to exercise their voting rights. If change is what a student wishes to see, talking about issues they care about could be a stepping stone to initiate more conversation about said issue. “Whatever issues younger voters are passionate about, they need to make their voices heard, whether it’s through activism, voting, or community engagement. Voting matters, so it’s important that students see the connection between voting and the actual legislation and policies that affect our lives,” said Eric Morgan, a Professor of Democracy and Justice Studies at UWGB.

Want to vote but don’t know where to start? Here’s a brief checklist to get started. Infographic: Grace Prust
Make sure to check your residing state and municipality to ensure that you are following deadlines, voting guidelines, and requirements. These vary by state.

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