A national advocacy organization that focuses on increasing voter registration for underrepresented groups announced on Wednesday a campaign to spur student participation in elections and to help students overcome voting barriers. The Fair Elections Legal Network kicked off its campaign, the Campus Vote Project, at George Washington University’s Law School. At the event, members of an advisory board on student voting met to talk about ways to create campuswide policies and programs that make voting more accessible for students. “Voting is a universal right,” said Victor Sánchez, president of the United States Student Association and member of the advisory board. “With help and guidance, there should be better ways to help go about increasing access to voter registration and increasing voters on campus.”
College students, the majority of whom are 18 to 29 years old, comprise a fair share of the electorate—nearly a quarter of eligible voters this year, according to a statement by the Fair Elections Legal Network. But only 22.8 percent of eligible voters under 30 voted in 2010, compared with 40.8 percent of all eligible voters casting ballots. College students, in particular, face unique challenges when attending institutions away from home, such as meeting proof-of-residency requirements, not knowing about voter-registration rules and deadlines, not having acceptable ID’s to vote, confusion about voting locations, and lack of transportation to polls.
The board discussed some remedies to those problems. Suggestions included establishing election-awareness campaigns, creating college voting Web sites to provide better information, offering polling stations on campuses, and even starting rewards programs to draw more students to register.