Voter turnout at Winthrop on the rise

In 2016, only 39 percent of 18-24 year olds voted in the presidential elections around the country. Winthrop kept students engaged and politically charged, according to Judy Longshaw, the News and Media Service Manager at Winthrop.

Karen Kedrowski is a political science professor and the director of the university’s Center for Civic Engagement. She said that students, faculty and staff continue to join in the effort to increase voter turnout on Winthrop’s campus, especially in the 2016 and the recent midterm elections.

“Winthrop also has a large team of faculty and staff who are interested in civic engagement who helped with the campus wide voter turnout efforts,” Kedrowski said.

Winthrop also has encouraged students to vote by participating in the Voter Friendly Campus Initiative and the All In Campus Democracy Challenge, according to Kedrowski.

“Through these associations, we were able share ideas with faculty and staff working on student voter turnout across the country. As a result, Winthrop paid students’ postage for their voter registration and absentee ballot forms and absentee ballots, and developed a ‘make a plan to vote’ project for ACAD classes,” Kedrowski said.

Many candidates have said that the political scene has begun to shift in order to suit college-aged students and many candidates have begun implementing efforts into their campaigns for colleges and universities. Kedrowski said that students should take advantage of this and vote so that they are heard.

“If they don’t participate, their needs and values are too easily overlooked. Moreover, voting is a habit and we want our students to become frequent voters,” Kedrowski said.

Winthrop’s political engagement has been continuously admirable, according to Kedrowski, but in recent years these efforts have grown immensely.

“However, this effort went to a new effort with the arrival of the John C. West Forum in 2008. This provided an additional venue to bring programming to campus, create internships, and to provide information about voting,” Kedrowski said.

Kedrowski also said that she is proud of Winthrop students and their engagement in civil discourse and political activism. She said that many students are becoming more interested in politics, because of the relatability of the policies these politicians are working on.

“Young voters are really interested in environment, health care, gun control and more. I also think young adults’ use of social media makes it easier to mobilize and organize protests, sit ins, and even email campaigns to elected officials,” Kedrowski said.

Many states have adopted a same-day registration policy and early voting policies, which Kedrowski has said she would like for South Carolina to do as well. She also said that in order to increase voter turnout among young people all over the country students should be given as many opportunities to vote as possible.

“States with these policies in place have higher voter turnout… These include making election day a campus holiday or allowing voting as an excused absence from class, providing rides to the polls or having a polling place on campus, providing voter education resources, and event postage,” Kedrowski said.

 

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