What's At Stake

What's At Stake

Young adults (ages 18-29) will make up at least 24% of the voting age population this year but, unlike other age groups, will face extra barriers to the ballot box. In 2010, only 22.8% of eligible voters under 30 voted, compared to 40.8% of all eligible voters casting ballots. Unless we take steps to dismantle the barriers to voting students face, we will continue seeing young adults underrepresented in our elections.

David's Story: One Student's Challenge to Voting

David, a sophomore at Ohio Wesleyan University, four weeks before the 2010 mid-term elections, came across a voter registration table sponsored by a local TV station. He and several other students took the two minutes it takes to fill out a voter registration form, putting the name of the dorm as their address, and turned the forms over to the volunteers at the booth. They told David he was all set to vote.

However, the day before the election, David realized he had not received a voter registration card from the County Board of Elections. When he contacted the Board of Elections office he was told that his name did not appear in a search of the database. They informed him that the registration contained an error. To register to vote you need an actual street address - not the name of the dorm. The Board of Elections office told David there were dozens of other cases just like his from the Ohio Wesleyan campus. It is not clear if those students were ever contacted to correct their registration.

Ultimately, David went to his precinct on Election Day, filled out a new voter registration form with the street address of his dorm. He was given a provisional ballot to vote but told it would be reviewed at a later time to determine if it would be counted. However, since Ohio does not have same day registration, his vote most likely was not counted.

David's story highlights the importance for colleges, student organizations, and local groups to reach out to students and provide them with accurate information they need to register and vote - including how to fill out the voter registration form. If David was provided accurate information from the start, his vote would have been counted.