In a recent survey of young U.S. residents, ages 18 to 29, conducted by CIRCLE and commissioned by the Youth Education Fund, 41.6 percent of college-aged respondents said they would be more likely to vote if a friend asked them. From one group of friendly Thunderbirds to another, Southern Utah University would like to encourage all registered voters on campus to vote.
With voter registration among 18-to 29-year-olds at a 16-year low, according to a new poll from the Pew Research Center, many young voters take all too lightly their voice in the future of the nation, state and region.
This is unfortunate, explains the director of SUU's non-partisan Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service, Eric Kirby, because students en mass can and do influence election outcomes.
Kirby continues, "College students can and should vote for candidates who are best aligned with their unique interests as students and, perhaps more importantly, candidates who have the best economic recovery plan for their individual cities and states, to ensure there are jobs and opportunities waiting for them once they graduate."
As an added benefit to voting young, according to Kirby, when students do vote in their college years, it skyrockets their connection with their communities and they become "habitual voters."
It is never too early to stake your claim in your community's future.
In opposition to national trends, on SUU's campus, Kirby is encouraged by what he has seen over this election season, saying that he thinks SUU's students have, by and large, been "extremely engaged."
He credits the election season buzz on SUU's campus to several factors: what he has coined "the Romney factor" in a state and region that is largely supportive of this unprecedented LDS presidential candidate; SUU's geographic location in relationship to key swing state Nevada, and the many T-Bird students who count themselves Nevada residents; and the close, ongoing competitiveness of this year's race on a national scale compared to the 2008 election in which Barrack Obama secured a decisive lead across all polls weeks before Election Day.
"This time," Kirby says, "polls vary day by day, and the closeness of the race has facilitated interest here at SUU."
He adds, "Our students need to have their voice heard."
Once the polls close, the Leavitt Center along with the SUUSA Academic Senate and the SUU Honors Program is hosting a free Election Carnival in the Student Center Living Room, beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
All are invited to attend, to watch as votes are tallied across the nation in both local and federal political races while they play games, win prizes and enjoy refreshments amid the 2012 Election Day buzz.