On national voter registration day, UD students sign up
Some University of Delaware students participated in National Voter Registration Day Tuesday by helping their peers register to vote.
UD freshman Christian Valdez registered on the Green with the help of a member of the Black Student Union—one of many student groups present at the event.
“I haven’t really been paying attention to be honest, and I was walking by, I was like, oh shoot, I have to do this,” said Valdez. “It’s my duty as a citizen. I gotta vote for my country.”
BSU Secretary Sarah Jones says her group was involved with the voter registration event because it is at heart a political organization. "We want to stress the importance of advocacy for yourself and your community."
The voter registration event was hosted by the student-led civic engagement initiative Make It Count. The group also signed students up for TurboVote— which helps them get absentee ballots and sends reminders for local, state and national elections.
Make It Count co-president and UD senior Amani Thurman says helping students vote absentee is important.
“A lot of our students are from New York or New Jersey, and the biggest trouble they have when it comes to voting is absentee ballots and accessibility to the ballot box— and having to drive home,” he said. “We luckily have a day off for election day. A lot of schools do not. ”
Naeem Jenkins-Nixon, spokesman for UD's Biden Institute, says members of Make It Count engaged 360 students using TurboVote Tuesday. He says since the beginning of this academic year, more than 900 students have used the platform to register to vote, request an absentee ballot or sign up for election day reminders.
Associate professor Lindsay Hoffman, Associate Director of the UD Center for Political Communication says recent data from Tufts University’s National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement shows last year, 84 percent of UD students were registered to vote —an increase of nearly 20 points from 2014.
“What is, I think, more interesting is the actual voting rate,” she said. “In 2014, only 14.8 percent of our students voted in the midterm. Last year, in the midterm, that went up to 41.6 percent — that’s more than double.”
Hoffman says she thinks this increase may have to do in part with the use of TurboVote on campus — and with the 2016 election, which she says was a “wake-up call” for students who may have previously thought voting did not matter.
UD President Dennis Assanis attended Tuesday's event and supported the push to register more students. "We feel the University is the place where all the ideals are born, and we cultivate young minds to be engaged citizens— so it's very important for them to be participating in the civic discourse of ideas and debate early in their life."