With only two weeks to go until the midterm elections, and voters across the country seeking to make their voices heard, the Georgetown University College Democrats and College Republicans are ramping up their efforts to encourage fellow students to vote.
The expected average rate of youth turnout during the midterm elections is usually between 20 and 25 percent. These numbers vary significantly from the 49.3 to 54.5 percent of young Americans who voted in 2008, as reported by The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.
At a town hall meeting at the Newseum with The George Washington University law students on Oct. 6, President Obama emphasized the importance of the youth vote.
“When you’re talking to your friends and neighbors and asking them to commit to vote, that’s the kind of thing that you should be talking about,” Obama said.
Political groups on campus have been heavily involved in energizing fellow students with voter registrations, volunteer efforts and awareness programs. Earlier this month, the College Democrats completed their annual non partisan Residence Hall Voter Registration and Absentee Ballot Drive. According to a press release, during the two-week drive 156 new voters were registered and 512 students received absentee ballot applications.
“We try to make it as easy as possible for students, and we’ve had lots of people tell us how much they appreciate our help and our encouragement,” GUCD Membership Director Hannah Lomax-Vogt (COL ’12) said in the release.
College Democrats President Bryan Woll (COL ’12) said that he believed that most young voters will support the Democratic Party in November, which will bolster the Democrats’ cause.
“The dissatisfaction that has boiled up the past few months is largely confined to older segments of the
population, while many young people still see President Obama and his administration as agents of social change,” Woll wrote in an email.
“I think that young people will continue to support Obama and the Democrats, because they have delivered results on issues that are important to our generation.”
Talking to people about voting has been the focus of other GUCD activities, including campaign trips and phone banking sessions for Democratic candidates. Earlier this month, the group spent a weekend campaigning in Philadelphia, and another is planned for Kentucky this coming weekend.
The College Republicans also recognize the importance of youth turnout in the upcoming elections, but believe that many Georgetown students will favor the Republicans.
“There’s an understandable sense that Obama and his allies in Congress are unresponsive to the American people and that they will make their change happen regardless of whether the majority of Americans are in favor of it,” GUCR Chief of Staff Kevin Preskenis (COL ’12) wrote in an email. “This doesn’t sit well with Georgetown students who have a particularly keen understanding of how government ought to function.”
To encourage voters to support the Republican candidates at the polls, the GUCR is actively campaigning in New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia. The campaigns focus on supporting the states’ Republican congressional candidates in hopes that the party will be able to gain enough seats in Congress to oust the Democrats’ control on Capitol Hill.
“We are trying to remain cautiously optimistic for November,” Preskenis said. “Republican enthusiasm in recent months has reached close to 60 percent, which is the highest average Gallup has found in a midterm election year for either party since 1994. I think we’ll see this with the younger vote.”