College students nationally are becoming a driving force in elections, as more students went out to vote in the 2018 midterm elections than their 2014 counterparts. Chapman students are among that force, as reported by the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE).
The voting rate in 2014 was 14.7 percent compared to 44.2 percent in the 2018 midterm elections. The rise of student voter turnout can be attributed to young people fighting back against the Trump administration, according to Max Lopez, the president of Chapman Democrats.
“They are running for office, protesting. We have Parkland, the Greta Thunberg movement,” Lopez said. “Young people can make a movement and be leaders of movements.”
Taylor Duncker, president of Chapman Republicans, did not respond to requests for comment. While some states in the U.S. are hindering the college student vote with strict out-of-state voting laws, colleges and universities are encouraging political engagement.
“More and more of the policy from the government and administration is going to affect all students. It doesn’t really matter which side or party you are in, these decisions will affect you,” said Shishei Tsang, a program coordinator for Student Engagement. “It’s really important for our students to get engaged as early as possible to stay informed and be part of the decision making process.”
In the NSLVE report, the national voting rate for all institutions was 39.1 percent. Chapman was placed higher than the national average voting rate for universities. Due to Civic Engagement’s tabling and methods of making registration more accessible, the events contributed to more student voters, said Cydney Hansen, a civic engagement assistant. Aside from having high voting rates in 2018, Chapman is recognized as a Voter Friendly Campus, due to its commitment to engaging students in the voting process.
During 2018, Civic Engagement did various activities throughout the year to get students out to polling places. Some of the events include Life of the Parties, intended to provide information about political party platforms and stances on issues, as well as So You Think You Can Vote?, an event designed to inform students about registration and what to expect in terms of barriers. TurboVote is an online platforms that assists in voter registration and sends out election reminders. Currently, 1,317 Chapman students are registered on TurboVote and 938 students have requested registration assistance, according to Tsang.
Other efforts by Civic Engagement include voter engagement tabling, debate screenings, the Deliberative Dialogue Series — which provided an opportunity for students to learn more about political issues — and partnering with Orange County Registrar of Voters for tabling. Political groups on campus are also working to encourage voter turnout. Chapman Democrats have helped their members during elections to learn how to research ballots and propositions while discussing each.
The club reviews the Orange County ballot as well as statewide initiatives. Rock the Vote, a voter registration drive, has also been conducted by Chapman Democrats, said Lopez. On Oct. 29, the Civic Engagement tabled in the Attallah Piazza along with the Orange County Registrar of Voters. The table had information about the new vote centers that will be implemented in the upcoming elections. The new way to vote includes nearly 200 vote centers in which anyone can vote. For example, a resident of Anaheim will be available to vote in Orange or any other city in the county. Voters will also be able to vote 10 days before the election, including weekends and on Election Day. All voters will also receive a vote-by-mail ballot.
Chapman has continued its efforts of being a Voter Friendly Campus by submitting a request to be a voting center in the 2020 election, hoping to make voting more convenient for students. “It would be beneficial because there would be no barriers to go to a voting center, such as time, transportation or work,” Tsang said.