Voter Registration Efforts Surge as Election Season Nears

This article was originally published in Pipe Dream on October 3, 2019.

With local elections approaching, there has been a recent uptick in student voter registration efforts on Binghamton University’s campus.

Positions up for the Broome County elections in November include a state Supreme Court Justice seat, Broome County district attorney, Endicott mayor, all seats on the Binghamton City Council and Endicott and Johnson City trustee positions.

According to the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) website, the CCE registered more than 2,000 students to vote in 2018 and helped more than 750 students fill out absentee ballot applications, an increase of more than 1,000 students from midterm elections four years prior. As a result of these efforts, BU has been designated as a voter-friendly campus for the 2019-20 school year. The designation is granted by the Campus Vote Project to universities that have successfully executed their plan to help students register and vote.

The CCE appears to be discontent resting on its laurels, however, and is instead working on getting an even larger portion of the student population informed and prepared to vote by Election Day. The office hosted a National Voter Registration Day event on campus last week, where students could check their registration status, update their voting address, request absentee ballots and register to vote.

Students are also being encouraged to register to vote as part of the Andrew Goodman Foundation’s Vote Everywhere program. The Vote Everywhere website aims to increase voting accessibility and help students on college campuses across the country become more engaged citizens.

Michael Lin, a junior majoring in computer science, said a lack of time and familiarity with the process were contributing factors for not registering to vote for the upcoming elections, but mostly attributed it to New York’s political landscape.

“I feel like we’re in a very democratic state, and I feel like my vote won’t really do much,” Lin said. “I’m going to make sure I register before the next presidential election, though.”

Katharine Myers, a senior majoring in psychology, said signing up to vote on campus last year was not difficult.

“A student group came to one of my organization’s meetings to give a presentation, and everyone who wanted to sign up was given a registration form and help to fill it out,” Myers said. “The group then took the forms and submitted them for us, so there wasn’t that much that we had to do ourselves and it didn’t really take too much time.”

Myers said she is uncertain about whether or not she will be voting this year.

“I’ve only ever voted in the major presidential elections,” Myers said. “I’ve been trying to be more politically involved, but as of now, I’m not sure whether I’ll participate in this election.”

Students can stop by the CCE office during its operating hours in UU-137 for assistance with registration or to get any questions they might have about the process answered. If they want to vote in the upcoming New York Democratic presidential primary, they have until Friday, Oct. 11 to change their party enrollment.