Student Congress encourages young voters

Historically proven, young adults have voted at lower rates than older demographics.

To help change these historical trends and continue to increase voter turnout rates, the Oakland University Student Congress (OUSC) is leading the effort in engaging students this election.

Normally done through tabling in the Oakland Center and Vandenberg Hall in past years, the majority of effort of the OUSC in encouraging student involvement in voting this year involved digital methods, according to Ethan Bradley, the president of the OUSC.

The tasks involved creating and posting digital marketing to encourage students to register and vote, as well as to teach them how to do so by providing resources from the Michigan Department of State and nonpartisan organizations. They also introduced Free Stamp Friday, where students can get free stamps from the Office of Student Involvement ticket window once a month. This idea provided OU students an easier opportunity to vote their absentee ballots.

Their effort doesn’t end in spreading the words out to the OU community. Bradley and Jeremy Johnson, director of Civic Affairs, have worked with the Residence Life association and the Alpha Lambda Delta honor society to provide voter engagement training sessions that help attendees learn about voting and how they can get others involved in the voting process.

Students can access resources about the registration and voting process include:

  1. Michigan Department of State student voting guide
  2. Campus Election Engagement Project candidate and issue guides
  3. Campus Vote Project voting procedure guide
  4. League of Women Voter personalized ballot guide
  5. ACLU voting rights guide

The National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement (NSLVE) from Tufts University shows an exceptional voting rate among registered students of 80.9 percent for OU, compared to a national average of around 75 percent, with overall voting rate of 56.7 percent compared to the national average of around 50 percent.

With the election, my goal is to see our total voting rate go up,” Bradley said. “We hope that our efforts over the past four years have increased our registration rate above the national average, but given the challenges this year has presented, I would be happy with any increase in our overall voting rate.

The vice president of the OUSC Annabella Jankowski said that OUSC’s primary goal is its students’ safety during the pandemic, but she also emphasized the importance of student engagement in voting.

“OUSC has always been working to get students involved civically and registered to vote so that they can participate in all elections throughout the year,” Jankowski said. “It is important to spread awareness about voting and the different methods with which students can vote.”

Casting a ballot may not always be an easy process for college students — yet, through raising awareness of these different voting resources, OUSC hopes to build momentum to create a culture of voting among the students by emphasizing the importance of political action into the curriculum and campus culture.

OUSC is going stronger than ever, and we have been able to continue working on our initiatives despite being in this hybrid setting,” Jankowski said.