College voting is on the rise, voting initiatives could be why

Although not popular in the past, collegiate voting has shown a gradual rise in popularity, especially as more controversial topics come to the forefront. 

Studies from Tufts University show that although the percentage of American college students voting is increasing, it’s still low comparatively when taking other demographics into account.

Olivia Murphy, a junior at SUNY Oswego, said they have already voted in the upcoming midterm elections.

“Even though voting isn’t the end-all, be-all of how to enact positive change, it still is an important step that’s worth doing,” Murphy said.

Murphy said that there’s no negative impact to voting, and that if there’s a chance voting will help, it’s worth it.

Murphy has also said that although certain potential policy changes, such as the reversal of Roe v. Wade, have impacted who she’s voting for, it hasn’t altered her stance on voting. 

“I definitely would have voted either way, I think,” Murphy said. 

Murphy said that many of their peers are in a similar situation.

“I know a number of (friends) have gotten their absentee ballots,” Murphy said, “so I feel like a number of my friend group will.”

Murphy said that although many people can vote, it can still be inaccessible to many groups, including (but not limited to) students and middle-class workers.

“If you have the ability, you need to do it,” Murphy said. “Because there are so many people who can’t because of voter suppression, because of disenfranchisement.”

The Washington Post attributes a jump in college student voting to on campus voting initiatives, such as Vote Oswego.

Allison Rank, an associate professor and chair of the political science program at SUNY Oswego, facilitates the Vote Oswego class.

Rank said the objective of the class is to “provide a practical political experience,” which can be especially useful for those who may not have the time to travel for internships. 

“Getting an internship in politics here can be tricky,” Rank said.

Rank said the objective of the Vote Oswego campaign itself is to provide reliable but fun information to students who may not know where to start with the political process.

“Something that is sort of easy, secure, and there is always a place to go to get any questions answered or the support that you need,” Rank said.

Rank said an important but tricky part of encouraging others to vote is to remind peers about what they find important.

“Help folks think through what it is they care about,” Rank said, “and then how that connects to politics—or, electoral politics, I should say.”

Rank said that young people are political, but it can be difficult for them to see how their personal needs align with politics. 

“Helping folks recognize that if you get a person in office who is at least empathetic to your version of what issues are,” Rank said, “you’ve got a much better chance of making a certain kind of headway than you do if a different candidate makes it into office.”

Rank said that a condition of being a voter is that you will never find a candidate who matches perfectly with personal preferences and to not be discouraged by this.

“Don’t expect them to be a perfect fit for you. Find people who seem like they would at least have your interests aligning with theirs in some way,” Rank said.  For more information, students can view the Vote Oswego Instagram page, which provides educational resources on voting in their county.