Students join nationwide effort for millennial voter registration

Ahead of the midterm elections, NextGen America is spearheading a civic engagement effort

With midterm elections on the horizon, many organizations are trying to increase voter turnout by targeting millennial voters.

In the 2016 election cycle, eligible millennial and Gen X voters outnumbered Baby Boomers and older generations for the first time. But, according to Pew Research, only half of eligible millennials voted in the last presidential election.

Political science professor Kim Fridkin said voter turnout among millennials is low because "they are less likely to be registered, they move more often, they have lower levels of income —and income level is related to voting — and are likely to be less connected to their community." 

Fridkin said turnout may increase if millennials feel passionate about the issues at hand.

"However, if millennials feel this election is important because they care about salient issues like DACA and gun control, they could turn out at higher levels," she said. 

NextGen America hosted a nationwide event on April 10 as part of their #YouthVote campaign. The campaign aims to register as many youth voters as possible and encourage them to vote for progressive candidates. The organization advocates for climate change solutions, immigrant rights and equality.

The ASU chapter of NextGen was part of the campaign and hosted an event on Tempe campus on April 10. The event had student volunteers who registered first-time voters and surveyed passersby on political issues.

NextGen ASU co-director Audrey Ruiz, a political science freshman, said she believes millennials will achieve high voter turnout in the midterm elections.

“Millennials are affected the most by issues like climate change and gun issues in schools,” she said. "They are fed up with the current situation and are ready to see real change.”

The event attempted to attract students with entertainment by having a D.J., a photo booth and a petting zoo featuring goats and chickens. Other clubs like ASU's Planned Parenthood Generation and Citizens’ Climate Lobby also had booths set up.

Miguel Ortega, an earth and environmental studies junior and co-director of Citizens’ Climate Lobby at ASU, said his club joined the event to stress the importance of climate change activism and civic engagement.

"Civic engagement is something not taught in our educational system," Ortega said.

NextGen ASU was able register 50 new voters and survey more than 200 students in a span of three hours. 

Ysabella Espinoza, a nursing sophomore, registered to vote at the event.

"I did not have any encouragement and was never taught anything about politics from my parents," Espinoza said. "I felt my voice or opinion didn't matter."

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