For this past Tuesday’s primary elections, the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs provided a Ride to Vote service that offered interested students a free bus to the polling stations. The event was meant to raise awareness and encourage students to vote by making the process easier.
This is an admirable program that demonstrates University interest in students’ civic engagement. By providing an easy and free method of transportation to the polls, the service also assists as a reminder to students, helping to direct them toward participation in the upcoming elections. Although the polling stations are relatively nearby, the bus still provides an easy alternative and promotes interest.
This same bus program was used during the 2012 presidential campaign as a means of encouraging student voting. The program should continue in the years ahead, including next semester’s presidential election as well as the midterm elections in 2018. An expansion of this program into the midterms would increase program visibility as well as foster an important aspect of civic engagement.
Midterm elections consistently yield lower turnouts than presidential elections due to the proportional lack of media coverage and voter interest. Midterms are equally as important as presidential elections, despite the relatively low turnout and lack of mainstream interest. Determining the makeup of Congress as well as gubernatorial elections is essential in shaping future legislation. Understanding this is extremely important for knowing the government and being a meaningful part of the electoral system.
For this reason, students should be encouraged to vote in these elections just as much as they are for the presidential. The same incentives should be provided, demonstrating the equal importance between the two elections. This would provide a good example and encourage increased political participation. Engagement with the election process and with civic issues is an important part of developing the best citizens possible, and the University should do as much as it can to create an environment that develops this.
The Student Affairs office should provide the same bus service for the midterms in order to foster this kind of interest. This year’s program deserves commendation for the effort and advertising put into it. Currently, the primary bus voting program is a great way to generate engagement, but it can be expanded to these other elections and continue to be promoted as an easy way to participate in the election process.
Featured Image by Abby Paulson / Heights Editor