Eagleton celebrates National Voter Registration Day with student involvement drives at Rutgers
With midterm elections around the corner, the Center for Youth Political Participation (CYPP) is keeping civic engagement active on campus through polling events for National Voter Registration Day today.
Elizabeth C. Matto, an associate research professor and director of the CYPP at the Eagleton Institute of Politics, said that if any student wants information on how they can register to vote, the best one-stop shop is the RU Voting website — also available on Sakai and myRutgers.
“On our site, students will find comprehensive, nonpartisan and accurate information that will help them as they complete their voter registration forms,” Matto stated in an email to The Daily Targum. “Students also can get information about their polling locations, applying to vote by mail and useful news resources.”
In addition to the website, the Institute is hosting numerous voter registration drives around campus, Matto said.
Students are registering voters on National Voter Registration Day today at the Rutgers University Programming Association's (RUPA) and Zimmerli Art Museum's "Four Freedoms" exhibit, then at the Rutgers v. Illinois football game on Oct. 6.
In order to vote in the New Jersey midterm elections, students must register by Oct. 16. If they are already registered but would like to vote at Rutgers, they must update their registration by the same date.
Students can register on the spot at one of Eagleton's many polling locations across campus. Otherwise, they must submit their printed voter registration or address change forms by mail or in-person to the appropriate Board of Elections, Matto said.
In the 2012 presidential election, 73.6 percent of Rutgers—New Brunswick students were registered to vote, of which 63.3 percent voted, according to the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement. This is compared to the 2016 election where 76.6 percent of students were registered of which 70.5 percent actually voted.
Matto is aware of low student-turnout rates and remains confident that efforts by campus groups and student involvement will drive out the vote this November.
“Currently, we've joined forces to broadly disseminate information about voter registration and Election Day and to encourage (students) to exercise their political power and vote. I'm very hopeful that we'll see an increase in turnout rates for this upcoming midterm election,” she said.
Matto still believes that it is important for people to vote, especially younger people. She said there are approximately 50 million 18-29 year olds eligible to vote — about 21 percent of eligible voters are between 18-29.
“I think it's important for young adults to appreciate how much potential for power they have. If young adults turn out to vote, and do so consistently, they can exert a great deal of influence not only on who is serving in office but the policies enacted by those in office,” Matto said.
Given the current political climate, and the issues that are on the table in this election, Matto thinks that Rutgers students have a responsibility to get out and vote, in order to determine their futures and life after Rutgers.
“Politics affect the day-to-day life of every Rutgers student. From student loan debt to job availability, students have a stake in the political process,” she said. “It matters then that they play a role in determining who represents them at all levels of government and the most powerful tool democracy affords them to determine who represents them is the vote.”