Vote Everywhere, a nonpartisan organization on campus that assists students in registering to vote, tabled on the Quad and Student Center Plaza on Tuesday afternoon, informing students on voter registration and talking about the importance of voting.
Sept. 19 is National Voter Registration Day in the U.S.
According to Emily Adcock, Vote Everywhere’s secretary, navigating the voting process is one of the biggest issues voters face. She said informing students is critical to the election process. Adcock also said students should know that their voice matters in the democratic process.
“As young people, we have to remember that the bills and the people that we are voting for … directly affect us,” Adcock said.
Richard Fording, Vote Everywhere’s adviser and a professor of political science at the University, wrote in an email that voter turnout among UA students increased from the 2016 election to the 2020 one, according to data compiled by the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education at Tufts University.
In the 2020 election, around 87% of UA students were registered to vote, but only 64% of registered voters cast their ballots, which is just below the 66% average for all college campuses in the U.S.
Fording said the gap between the registration rate and ballots cast is partially because students from out of town must travel or vote by mail to cast a ballot in their hometowns’ respective elections.
Adcock said Vote Everywhere is reigniting an initiative to cancel classes on Election Day so that students have an opportunity to vote wherever they are registered.
Tara Jones, an Andrew Goodman Foundation ambassador at Vote Everywhere, said that despite the logistical concerns involved with registering outside of Tuscaloosa, many students still want to vote in their home states or districts.
“You have to basically use absentee ballot or use early voting … and Alabama doesn’t have early voting,” Jones said.
Jones is also an intern at Return My Vote, a voting rights partnership between faculty and students at the University and Greater Birmingham Ministries. The focus of the organization is to help restore voting rights to people who have lost theirs due to a felony conviction.
Fording expressed optimism about the enthusiasm of young voters.
“Our students, like young people generally, do care about politics and the future of our country,” Fording said.