With the 2020 Presidential Election season approaching, everyone is on edge, especially the current President and his opposition. Will we have another four years of Trump? Or will he be the first President since Republican President George H. W. Bush to lose his reelection bid? Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020 remember that day, add it to your calendar because that day is the day history will be made. Since the 2016 elections, thousands of high school students now attending college will make their mark on history as they vote for the first time for the Presidential candidate and platforms they support. Student engagement in voting had risen to 40% in 2018 as opposed to 19% in 2014. This rise in voting engagement has shown that political campaigns should take seriously the younger generation of voters. Gone are the baiting of Millennials and Gen Z-ers with viral video trends, slang terminology, and trying horribly to be relatable to our generations. College students have been interested and incensed with the current political climate of the United States, especially with the actions of the current administration on civil and human rights.
According to an article by Forbes, 18-24 year-olds have opposed how Trump has handled key issues such as climate change, immigration, and gun control. Mass shootings and lack of gun control legislation continues to be a norm within the country, and college students are rightfully angered by this, as many shootings have been occurring on school campuses. There have been countless instances of gun violence President Trump has not acted upon that college students can no longer silently oppose. The President has also been responsible for the immigration crisis that began with the ending of the DACA program, which allows undocumented individuals to live, work, and study in the U.S. without papers; and the current unjust treatment of immigrants and asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexican border wherein forced family separation, unlawful deportation, and inhumane treatment of detainees are being supported by his administration and their supporters. Many young adults are sick and tired of legislation not being passed in the best interest of citizens and the Trump administration seemingly forgetting the ideals and traditions on which this nation was built upon and the immigrants and people of color who’ve played a role in the growth and prosperity of our nation. We are a country of immigrants, so why then, does immigrant become a bad word?
Austin Community College has used its own funds to set up temporary polling places in nine of their eleven campuses to help college students vote. This policy has come under attack after Texas legislature passed a law that outlawed any polling place that does not stay open for the entire 12-day voting period. This has caused an uproar in the community because the temporary polling places have accounted for about 14,000 college student votes. Six other polling places at colleges in Fort Worth, two in Brownsville on the Mexican border, and others statewide will be forced to close due to this new policy since their availabilities rely on student turnout. This will affect the college students who voted in 2018. Texas has been historically a Republican state, and during Presidential elections have also voted for the Republican candidate. However, college students have had the tendency to vote for the Democrats instead of Republicans. With young adult voters growing in numbers, the Republican party may be worried about how voting numbers will change with the upcoming 2020 elections.
In New Hampshire, the state passed a law where it required every voter to show their “domicile” by having a New Hampshire issued Driver’s ID and car registration. A Republican-backed government passed this policy hoping to keep their majority stronghold from the recent midterm elections; historically New Hampshire has been a swing state in the Presidential elections. The argument for this law has come from the need to distinguish between “domicile” and residency. Passing the law served to clarify the misunderstanding between the two terms; however, it caused more confusion than clarification. It might affect how out-of-state college students can vote in the upcoming 2020 Presidential elections. Despite that possibility, the wording has been very vague about which services the law will affect. According to the article by NHPR, the law has clarified that a person who claims residency in the state of New Hampshire has to follow all the laws required such as motor vehicle registration, hunting licenses, and a New Hampshire ID/Driver’s License.
Florida is another state that has altered its voting policy. Florida, which is notoriously known as a swing state alongside New Hampshire, is currently a Republican-led government that is also seeking to suppress college-aged voters. 60,000 college students came to the polls in the 2018 Florida Governor elections in which the votes were so close; a 30,000 vote difference from Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum for state Governor in which DeSantis won by a small margin, this close call has caused worry amongst the Republican Party who’ve won the gubernatorial race in Florida for the past six elections. With these very close voting numbers, the Republican-led legislature quickly passed a law that required polling places to offer a large space of non-permitted parking which currently is in short supply on college campuses. It’s no secret that the law has been aimed to discourage a specific group of people to vote. With this restriction, many college students will not have the time, or access to vote. Many students take advantage of early voting to submit their ballot before continuing onto their busy schedules. For example, some college students spend about 12 hours working a job, volunteering near campus, or supporting their families that they do not have the time to go and vote. They could submit an absentee vote; however, this method has been unreliable since vote registrars have discarded them because the signatures do not match public records.
There is no denying that college students have been more active in politics. They want to be heard and some will not be denied that right especially in today’s political climate. In a world where student engagement becomes progressively difficult to cultivate, restricting student voting only hurts the ability to make well-informed decisions. The college vote used to be pandered to for social media support and article clicks, but since we’ve now become the majority and hold the power to sway the election, our rights to vote have come under attack. It’s up to our generation to take back control of the narrative and push for new ideas and policies that don’t alienate and harm the people who make America so great and unique in the first place. We must not stand aside and allow lawmakers to continue to control the government by passing policies on issues that they won’t even be alive to see the consequences for. It’s time to rise up.