We just came out of the general election, and most people aren’t ready to start thinking about elections again until 2018, but that doesn’t mean the issue of low voter turnout has gone away.
As long as there is political apathy in the word, voter turnout will never be perfect. But there are some steps student organizations and the University itself can take to help students become more politically engaged.
Students need more opportunities to register on campus.
A handful of student organizations have led the charge when it comes to voter registration, setting up tables around campus before big elections to try to get students involved in the political process.
However, these organizations have other goals they want to accomplish throughout the year, leaving a hole where a permanent resource should be.
There are a couple of possible solutions. If the university could spare the expense, they could hire a permanent representative of the Oklahoma Election Board who could be available on campus to help students with registration or answer questions about absentee ballots.
At the very least, there should be one organization dedicated to having voter registration events several times each semester, even in years with no large federal elections. With so many politically minded student organizations on campus, their goals should include keeping students engaged and aware of their civic responsibilities on the local, state and federal levels.
Students need access to consistent and reliable voter information.
Did you know if you are an out-of-state student, Oklahoma has a law allowing you to vote from your temporary campus address as if it were your permanent address? That means you wouldn’t have to send out for an absentee ballot or drive for two hours to go home just to vote.
This is the kind of information that most people do not have easy access to, and it is also the information that is very crucial to their decision to be an active participant in civic life.
Luckily, this is also the kind of problem that is relatively cheap and easy to solve. Solutions can include anything from hosting an event about voter awareness on campus to printing up fliers with voter information and leaving them around campus.
These tasks can either be taken up by politically minded student organizations or TU itself; it doesn’t really matter who answers the call. What matters is that as an academic community we foster a sense of civic responsibility.