GLNS Voting Drive Registers Students

Courtney Garloff, Editor in Chief

More young voters are ready to vote after the Government, Law and National Security Club offered students the opportunity to get registered to vote without leaving campus.

The club conducted a voter registration drive sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Wilkes-Barre Area. The event took place in the Banks Student Life Center  Friday, Sept. 18.

More than 30 participants completed voter registration forms while several others took forms to fill out and send back on their own.

According to the representative from the League of Women Voters, that turnout is impressive.

“Students are not known to vote in significant numbers, but the students who came by were excited about the opportunity to participate in the political process,” said assistant professor of government, law and national security Dr. Christopher Stevens.

Students of all political affiliations were welcome at the event.

“By getting students to take a form, this may encourage students to take the next step,” said Stevens.

During the event, club members helped to hand out registration forms while representatives from The League of Women Voters answered any questions that students had about the voter registration process.

“It’s a great opportunity to reach young people, to get them involved in the democratic process,” said Rhonda Lambert, a board member of the League of Women Voters.

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan organization that focuses on the promotion of political responsibility through informed and active participation in government.

“The League’s mission is to promote informed and active participation in American self-government,” said Lambert.   “We try to hold registration drives each Fall and Spring, before the registration cutoff dates for the November general election, and the May primary.”

This drive was a part of the club’s service project to help the university community.

“It’s a service activity that really relates. Voting is a basic government activity,” said Stevens.

The drive is also an effort to gain more student voters. According to the United States Census Bureau in 2014, 29.4 percent of U.S. citizens ages 18 to 34 voted.

“When we hear stories about not participating, it’s usually because of a lack of information and we take that crutch away,” said Stevens.

Lambert feels that a lack of young voter turnout come election time is due to young voters not looking far enough ahead.

“I don’t think they feel ownership of their futures yet. Many are from other states and don’t feel informed enough to get involved in local or Pennsylvania politics,” said Lambert. “I’m sure that the 2016 presidential primary election will generate a lot of interest, so we can come back here in April and sign up all the students who definitely want to participate.”

Stevens hopes this drive and others like it will help get more young voters to register and vote, especially because Pennsylvania is a swing state.

“We are creating a shortcut to make it easier for students,” said Stevens.

He stressed that young student voters can really make a difference in an election.

“We saw what happened with Barack Obama: young people came out and tipped him over the edge,” said Stevens.

“You are affected, more than you can imagine, by the governments that are elected,” said Lambert. “I find that people who are students are primed to learn and share ideas. It is supremely important to become informed about issues, the small act of registering to vote may cause a student to pay more attention to a discussion that they might otherwise ignore.”

With election season coming, there is only a limited amount of time for students to start thinking about voting.

Members plan to hold another voter registration drive later on in the school year.

“We intend to conduct this drive again next semester before the presidential primary in April,” said Stevens. “Politicians may not motivate students, but it is our hope that students will motivate each other.”