Many people view voting as the pinnacle of freedom and a way to actively engage in the decisions that govern their lives. Therefore, when Nov. 6 rolls around, one can bet these people will line up at the polling stations in order to cast their votes.
Unfortunately for college students that share these sentiments, getting to the polling stations can be a bit difficult; a Tuesday full of classes or a long commute home can make voting on Election Day a series of obstacles that are just too aggravating or almost impossible to clear. Luckily, mail-in ballots are an option for students.
The Civic and Community Engagement Center, in partnership with the Andrew Goodman Foundation, held a mail in ballot party last Thursday to help students vote by mail-in the upcoming midterm elections. Students had the opportunity to apply for a vote by mail-in ballot and learn about the midterms, all while enjoying some delicious food among their fellow peers.
"I just wanted to make sure I was doing my part, especially because this is the first election that I can vote in,” said freshman Julia Sims.
As a first-time voter, Sims stated that she thinks it's important that she and others get involved. She also expressed her gratitude that Ramapo College seems to be pushing students to vote with posters, emails and, of course, events such as the mail-in ballot party.
"Filling out the form here has definitely made it easier," said Sims. "Without this I don't know how I would have voted."
Historically, though, younger demographics have not been avid voters, especially in the midterm elections. According to the Pew Research Center's reports of the 2014 midterm election, "Only 39 percent of Gen Xers who were eligible turned out to vote, as did a significantly smaller share of eligible Millennials (22 percent)."
Post-Millennials, however, were not eligible to vote yet in the last midterms, and thus were not listed in these reports. Despite not having large turnouts, younger generations have the potential to overtake the prior generations in voter turnout. Pew Research Center stated that as of April 2018, “59 percent of adults who are eligible to vote are Gen Xers, Millennials or ‘post-Millennials.’”
"I believe that college students are very underrepresented in the U.S. government and I think that has to do with our low turnout numbers with voting," said senior and co-manager of the CCEC Allison Goddard.
The CCEC is a non-partisan office on campus devoted to getting students to become civically engaged. The College’s website states that this means “combining awareness, education and action for active citizenship and democratic participation.” Goddard explained that voting is an essential component of democratic participation, as it is a person’s “civic duty.”
“I feel like a lot of people feel like their voices aren't being heard," said Goddard. "Voting is one of the ways we can overcome that."
Registered voters can still apply to vote by mail by returning their application to their respective County Clerks. The County Clerk must receive the application 7 days before Nov. 6 to be eligible. Additionally, voters can apply in person to their County Clerk until 3 p.m. the day prior to the election.