The SGA will immediately begin recruiting student groups to participate in the TerpsVOTE Voter Registration Drive Coalition after voting Wednesday night to work on the initiative, which aims to inform and register students for elections.
While national general elections may currently be on the periphery, Georgie Jones, the SGA Civic Engagement director, said the body will work to register potential voters from any state.
MaryPIRG president Ary Papadopoulos said the organization is similarly focused on telling students to register to vote, even if there is not an upcoming election. MaryPIRG, which plans on participating in the TerpsVOTE coalition, will make raising awareness about elections one of its main goals.
“People from Jersey, Virginia, Maryland — there’s a lot of big elections coming up and not a lot of students are aware of that,” said Papadopoulos, a senior public health science major. “We want to educate students when they can vote and tell them that they can vote.”
College Park residents will hit the polls for city elections Nov. 7, the same day New Jersey and Virginia will hold gubernatorial elections. In 2018, gubernatorial primaries will begin for the national midterm elections, including Maryland’s election on June 26.
Like Papadopoulos, junior criminology and criminal justice major Tess Boettger believes some students are unaware of upcoming elections, making initiatives like TerpsVOTE important, she said.
“It’s important to have a voice in democracy and to vote for every position, no matter how big or small,” Boettger said.
Informing students is a key aspect of encouraging voter registration, because people would be more likely to vote if they were educated about issues surrounding elections, freshman architecture major Addison Abbott said.
“If I was more informed, I would go out and vote, but I wouldn’t vote if I didn’t know the candidates well,” Abbott said. “This program would help.”
Other organizations, including the College Democrats and College Republicans, have been involved with TerpsVOTE in previous years and want to join it again this semester.
College Democrats president Jake Polce said it is important for college students’ opinions to be heard in elections, no matter what party they are affiliated with.
“What’s important to us is having college kids recognize their right to vote, participate in the democratic process and do our part to stamp out that stereotype that young people are apathetic toward elections and don’t care about their politics,” said Polce, a senior government and politics major. “Especially in our current age of Trump, I just don’t think that’s true.”
The College Republicans also emphasize nonpartisanship when working with TerpsVOTE, and the group’s president, Steven Clark, said one of his goals is to make TerpsVOTE more successful than last year.
“Last year, when I was the representative [for College Republicans], the TerpsVOTE coalition was one of the best in the Big Ten,” said Clark, a junior government and politics major. “We have to continue to meet that and hopefully be the best in the Big Ten and get the most registrations.”
Next week, the SGA plans to vote on a resolution that would urge this university to allow students eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to pay in-state tuition, even if these students are no longer legally protected by federal law. The resolution would also urge this university’s administration to help aid DACA students in the cost to file a DACA renewal.
The legislation comes following the SGA’s decision to vote down an amendment in a previous DACA bill that included language to provide in-state tuition to DACA students.