Students encouraged to cast their ballots in midterm elections
The Santa Clara
October 18, 2018
This upcoming Election Day students can pop into Benson for a quick snack and get their voting done all in one trip, a setup engineered to encourage students to vote.
Ahead of the 2018 Midterm Elections, the Center for Student Involvement (CSI) is urging students to vote by presenting them with an array of resources to clarify the registration process.
CSI Director Tedd Vanadilok stressed the importance of voting.
“It is the civic duty of all eligible U.S. citizens to make their voices heard through their legal right to vote,” Vanadilok said. “Even for students who are not U.S. citizens, they can still be engaged during an election season by communicating with candidates about issues they care about or things they want to see changed for the betterment of their communities.”
Santa Clara is currently taking part in the “All IN Campus Democracy Challenge,” a nationwide awards program that recognizes universities like Santa Clara for increasing student voting rates.
According to the All IN Campus Democracy Challenge website, “the challenge encourages higher education institutions to help students form the habits of active and informed citizenship, make democratic participation a core value on their campus and cultivate generations of engaged citizens who are essential to a healthy democracy.”
As part of Santa Clara’s participation in the challenge, the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement (NSLVE) compiled a campus report detailing Santa Clara’s voting rates in the 2016 Presidential Election.
Of the students who were registered to vote, 68.9 percent of them actually voted on Election Day. That meant that among all students, 57.6 percent of them voted. In comparison, NSLVE reports 50.4 percent as the voting rate across all institutions in 2016.
When considering demographic breakdowns of voters in 2016, 69.2 percent of female students voted, compared to the 59.5 percent of male students who voted.
The percentage of students who voted in each class was mostly consistent, with 46.7 percent of first-years, 50.3 percent of sophomores and 49.7 percent of upperclassman voting.
“Voting is incredibly important, especially these days,” sophomore Sarah Lopez said. “So I’m glad that the school is making efforts to support it.”
In order to help students become more acclimated with their voting options and the contents of the ballot, a Pizza and Politics event was hosted on Oct. 16. The goal of the event was to prepare them for voting.
One of the speakers at the event, professor Matthew Harrigan, attributes low voter turnout among students to a lack of understanding of the ballot.
“We wanted to let students know how they can register. And to make them feel prepared to vote and give them the necessary background to understand the issues,” Harrigan said. “It’s important the students vote because politicians listen to the voters. If students want members of state and local governments to listen, the younger age group needs to make their presence felt.”
Jinal Patel, a sophomore and U.S. citizen who grew up in Zimbabwe, plans to vote in her first election this year. Patel says she thinks all eligible students in the U.S. should go out and vote simply because they have the right to.
The same can’t be said for her home country where citizens have only been recently allowed to vote for president.
“It becomes a more collective vote from different demographics and age groups and it gets people more involved,” Patel said. “It allows them to have a voice and more of a say so in the government.”
In addition to voter registration, the CSI is also assisting students in casting their votes on Nov. 6, such as providing information of the nearest and most accessible polling locations for students. For students living on campus, the nearest polling location will be the Benson Memorial Center.
Sophia Neuhaus, the university’s social sciences and government information librarian, said that as a Jesuit institution of higher education, one of Santa Clara’s core values is fostering civic engagement among students, staff and faculty.
“Young adults often have different perspectives on issues than people in other age groups,” Neuhaus said. “They need to be heard because some of the decisions made today are going to affect them for decades to come.”
Voter registration and voting information can be found at: https://www.scu. edu/csi/leadership/initiatives/voter/
Contact Emma Pollans at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.