The upcoming presidential election is definitely a critical one. But even more critical is making sure that young citizens in this country learn to exercise their power to vote. Encouraging their participation in the civic process of electing the officials who represent them and in giving their voice to local and national issues helps to assure the health of our political system. Right when students reach voting age, they usually are at college and often times at colleges and universities in states away from their homes. Students need to be encouraged to register to vote either in the state they are from or the state in which their college is located. In fact, encourage may be the wrong word. Colleges and universities need to take responsibility for engaging young people in exercising their citizenship and help to make it easy for them to do so.
My friend, Michael Peshkin (engineering professor at Northwestern University), began work on the Student Vote Project in 2008, which works to register college age voters. He is interviewed below by Michael James and Katy Hogan on Live from the Heartland (WLUW Radio). He calls for students to involve themselves in the political process, to integrate the vital lifelong habit of voicing and voting.
Where some states around this country are working hard to restrict the right to vote, this project, run by committed and passionate college students, is working to make sure their peers embrace their responsibilities as citizens. This is a project for student groups to do person-to-person registration DRIVES on campus. Three students can get 1000 registered! It’s not about getting yourself registered. The Student Vote Project is unique in that it offers students a choice of registering locally or registering “back home”. Most students choose the latter.
The website for the Student Vote Project is replete with all the necessary information and forms any college student organization might need to carry out this 50 state registration. I urge any and all who read this to talk with their children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, neighbors who are attending college to share the information this website has to offer and encourage college student groups to commit to helping their peers to participate in civic engagement by registering and voting. This is how democracy remains dynamic and integral.