In 2008, there were more young people voting then all years since 1972 when 18 year old individuals were first allowed to vote. With President Barack Obama fighting for reelection and the GOP trying to pull some of the those votes away, there are some in that 18-24 bracket trying to motivate their contemporaries to vote and convey to them that voting matters. A few Montclair State University students headed to the Essex County Hall of Records in Newark with the names and addresses of more than 1,100 new voters a few weeks ago. Those were only about one-third of the total that students at Montclair State submitted as part of major registration push before the October 16th deadline.
As Jonathan Royle, one of the Montclair State students doing the drive, stated;
"Every year is important. It affects a lot of us — health care, jobs, my loans."
For Royle and others around the state trying to collect thousands of registration forms leading up the deadline, it was not as much about the two presidential candidates; but the ideal of voting. And voting on referendums as well including a particular one that young voters have the most to gain from.
This year there is a referendum that if passed would allow New Jersey to borrow up to $750 million to fund the construction of new classrooms and labs at the state’s public and private colleges. It is the first time in 24 years a higher education bond has appeared on the ballot.
According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, a nonpartisan research center; four years ago voter turnout among 18- to 29-year-olds rose slightly when young voters turned out in large numbers nationwide to help elect President Obama. But the youth turnout was still only 53 percent in New Jersey that year, which was distantly behind the 67 percent of voters over age 30 who went to the polls.
One of the biggest issues facing those on college campuses is the uncertainty of how to register and where to vote on their campus. To assist with that, each election cycle there are more groups on campuses helping students out and making sure their campus address is their primary address if they happened to have registered in their hometowns. Those organizations also assist with absentee ballots and ensure young voters know all their options.
As Cat Iribarne, a campus organizer with a statewide group on college campuses called NJPIRG, expressed;
"We’re finding a lot of students are already registered. We are encouraging students to update their registration so they can vote here."
Young voters often allow those older than them to dictate their agendas with having them be the large core of voters. However, one day those 18-24 year olds will be 38-44 year olds or 58-64 year olds and then will have a larger appreciation for the issues and elections. With referendums like the one this year and important developments on the economy and education and multiple areas; every vote matters.