Over 55,000 college students registered to vote for the 2014 midterm election throughout Oregon.
Student representatives joined with the Oregon Student Association to register college students on over 21 Oregon college campuses for the 2014 election.
This fall, the campaign carried out by ASCOCC has been seen all over campus. Employees have entered every campus department, handing out forms and speaking to audiences about student voters’ influence on tuition. Students filled out their registration forms, and showed that student political involvement is rising, backed by statistical evidence.
“This voter registration drive reaches out and engages all students in the political process. We want all students in this state to have a voice and be able to impact positive change in their communities. We are building student power in this state so that our elected officials will prioritize the issues students care about, “ said Gabe Gardiner, a student at the University of Oregon and a lead volunteer on voter registration drive there. “ Students recorded-breaking engagement in this voter registration drive proves that students are not apathetic and that when we are reached out to, we will have our voices heard,” he added.
One of the main goals of this year’s campaign was to ensure that all students regardless of race, sex, socio-economic status, ethnicity, age, cultural background, religion, sexual orientation or other factors.
“This campaign is so exciting because we have engaged more students in the electoral process than we ever have before, than anyone ever has before. This is setting a statewide and national precedence,” said Torii Uyehara, a student at Southern Oregon University and chair of the Statewide Student Vote Committee. “We made it one of our priorities this year to register students on our campuses that had been historically disenfranchised from the voting process. We engaged students from all communities, all walks of life, and all political viewpoints in this drive.”
Historically higher education tuition increases have been held off due to high numbers of voters, according to Warren.
“For lower income people, it becomes easier to get higher-level education if you get your vote out there,” said Taylor Richards, a COCC student.
On the Central Oregon Community College campus, over 1,345 voters registered; just shy of the 1,500 goal.
“Oregon has become a role model to other states, when it comes to voter representation,” said Justin Warren, ASCOCC Vice President of Legislative Affairs. “This was the largest non-partisan voter registration campaign in Oregon.”
This could mean that Oregon is not the first or final frontier. It is not the first state to engage students, nor are is Oregon the last; this could expand, showing other states the power voters hold regarding state college tuition, leading to a chain-effect in prioritizing student’s needs in higher education.
The work is not nearly over, with 3 major steps in the process; the steps being voter registration, voter education, and “GOTV”, or “Get Out the Vote”. Voter registration has already occurred. Voter education is currently happening, with employees handing out pamphlets regarding ballot decisions. The last step, “GOTV”, is happening. It ensures personally ensuring students have submitted their ballot. Employees have found that communication with students is important.
“Have your ballots in by November 4, and get educated on voting,” Warren said. “Know your ballot. It’s your vote, use it how you want.”
Tanner Scheibner | The Broadside