Campus political groups seek to increase voter turnout

Aidan McCahill, Contributing Writer

The New Orleans Smoothie King Center was established as an early voting location in 2020. (Infrogmation of New Orleans on Flickr)

With midterm elections only a few weeks away, political groups on and off campus are working to mobilize student voters — a demographic that saw historic levels of voter turnout in the 2020 election. 

Margaret Easley, vice president of Tulane College Democrats, said the group aims to get people registered to vote for upcoming elections and make sure they have all the resources they need. Additionally, College Democrats President Darcy Schleifstein said the group strategizes as to where student votes will count the most.  

“For national-level politics, we know a lot of Tulane students come from Georgia, a lot come from Pennsylvania,” Schleifstein said. 

“Overall, the races in Louisiana, specifically for Democrats, are not competitive. That’s unless you go on the state level,” she said. “That’s where we’re focused on.” 

Women in Politics, a nonpartisan political organization dedicated to highlighting women’s issues and promoting leadership on campus, hopes the aftermath of Roe v. Wade will help mobilize female voters.

“We’re really just trying to get out the vote as much as possible,” President Sara White said. “Almost all of the female-identifying students who are in our club are affected by this issue in some way or another.”

Several campus political groups attended a discussion on the importance of young people in politics on Sept. 28. Richard Nelson, Republican State Representative, and The Advocate | Times-Picayune columnist Stephanie Grace led the event and discussed the impact young voters can have on policy. 

Other upcoming events include a Women in Politics event with State Representative and New Orleans native Mandy Landry who plans to share her experiences as a woman in politics. Additionally, Women in Politics said they are collaborating with College Democrats to provide an overview of all the women running in midterm elections. 

New Orleans-based nonprofit Power Coalition for Equity and Justice joined the organizations, promoting their overall mission: to engage Louisianians in democracy.  

“Voting needs to be looked at like a necessity, the same way that we make sure we wake up each morning and do the things that we need to do,” Carlos Pollard Jr., power coalition coordinator, said. “When elections come around, we need to make sure that we vote and participate in our democracy.”

Other groups included Sunrise Movement Tulane, a group dedicated to fighting climate change, and Bridge USA, a new nonpartisan group working to improve political culture among youth. The meeting lacked a Republican-oriented group, and speakers expressed the necessity of a conservative political group on campus to allow for richer discourse.

Despite recent gains in young voter turnout, voters between the ages of 18-24 have historically made up the smallest percentage of voters. 

“It’s almost a joke among politicians that young people don’t vote, so we don’t care what they think. And I think it’s just a tragedy,” Nelson said. “Because at the end of the day, the younger you are, the more you have on the line to the state of the future of the country.”

He also encouraged students to get involved in local politics.

“On a local level, you can change everything,” he said. “Louisiana has rewritten their constitution 12 times, we could rewrite the whole thing again.”

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