Gulf News, Katherine Hu:
The loss of in-person services is likely to depress Gen Z registration rates, Maya Patel, a recent University of Texas at Austin graduate who now works as Texas State Coordinator for the Campus Vote Project, said in an interview.
At her alma mater, students serving as volunteer deputy registrars would register around 10,000 to 20,000 new student voters in any given election cycle through folding tables out on the quad, in-person visits to classrooms, and a voter registration party until midnight on the last day to register. Very little of that will be possible this semester as UT Austin moves many classes online to try to limit infection rates.
“It’s going to have a huge impact on voter registration, especially in states like Texas where there’s no online voter registration,” Patel said. “Students really rely on in-person guidance to help navigate the system.”
Preventing problems like these from derailing the youth vote in November will require focusing on barriers to voting as a whole and how to overcome them.
Among other things, that means enabling people to track their mail-in ballots as easily as they can track their packages, using push notifications to keep people informed on last-minute changes to polling locations, and shifting voter registration help online. However, these shortcomings also highlight the lack of infrastructure our country has to educate and sustain civic engagement among young voters.
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