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Sunday, May 26
The Indiana Daily Student


IU and student groups encourages student voting


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 15.9 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds reported voting in the 2014 midterm elections. 

Over the last four years, IU staff and students have been working to raise the number of students voting on campus. 

“To have a vote is to have a voice,” said Lisa-Marie Napoli, associate director of IU's Political and Civil Engagement program. “With that in mind, it’s really important that students are able to exercise that right to vote and to have a voice in choosing who their elected officials should be to represent them.”

Napoli is a member of the ALL IN Big Ten Voting Challenge steering committee at IU. She said the the committee is working on voter registration efforts to maximize the number of eligible student voters.

Their efforts have paid off. IU has been named as one of the top universities in the nation for encouraging student voting by Washington Monthly magazine. 

Washington Monthly, a nonprofit magazine based in Washington D.C., compiled the list as part of its 2018 college ranking issue released Aug. 27. Schools earned one point each time they had completed one of the magazine’s four measures of commitment to student engagement. 

Washington Monthly awarded points to schools who participated in the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) and the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. Schools also received points for releasing their NSLVE data and ALL IN action plans publicly. 

Out of the 1,488 schools ranked by Washington Monthly, 58 colleges and universities earned the maximum award of four points. IU is one of four schools with multiple campuses on the list, with IUPUI also earning four points. 

The Big Ten Voting Challenge is not the only effort on campus to increase student voter registration. Campus Action for Democracy is a nonpartisan, student-led organization whose mission is to build the political power of IU students on the local, state and national level.

Will Stauffer, a third-year law student and organizer for Campus Action, said the organization is trying to register 5,000 student voters before Oct. 9, the deadline for registration in Indiana.  

“When students vote, politicians – or our representatives – recognize that and pay attention to that because we have the power to get them elected or not get the elected,” Stauffer said. “We believe that politicians work for us and not the other way around.”

Washington Monthly’s criteria for student engagement only considers voter information for general election years, but both Stauffer and Napoli say it’s important for students to engage in midterm elections. 

“Even though it’s not a presidential year for the election, it is an important election because it will determine in large part how the national congress will look,” Napoli said. 

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