Why Students Struggle to Find Their Voice in US Presidential Elections
Updated: Jan 18, 2021
University Times, Gillian O'Neill:
It is clear that recent examples of student activism have shifted political opinion in the U.S and have shown others how youth activism can work. Frost details this stating: “Young people involved in activism – climate change activists as well as the gun control activists coming out of Marjorie Stoneman High School – those young people went on the road in 2018 to push for a Congress that would be pro-gun control. They made a difference in several states.” Frost explains that a combination of strategies is ideal for young people to assert their involvement in the political landscape.
Benjamin Nixon, Student Advisory Board member of Campus Vote Project, explains that a significant issue is the disparities between the voting systems of individual states. A central repository of information must exist as a voting guide for students with state-specific instructions. “I hope that students that are seeking this information know that there are multiple layers that they can get information from; it comes from the internet and it comes from local elections officials – it shouldn’t come from Facebook.”
Increasing access to ballots by opening more polling stations is a beguilingly straightforward solution, but other structural issues persist within fortified institutions that are designed to restrict access. Food and housing insecurity present barriers which are increasingly affecting students across the US.
“One in four students are going to face food insecurity and one in 10 are going to face housing insecurity at some point during the semester,” according to Nixon. For those students, “voting is much less tangible […] especially when you are inside urban areas where you have this longitudinal, unfettered globalisation which has basically disenfranchised entire classes of people from upward mobility where they really have limited opportunities to actually maintain a living.”
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