The numbers are dismaying. According to a new US Census report, only 20% of eligible 18-29-year-olds voted in 2014. It was the lowest turnout in 40 years, below even 2010’s doleful 24%. Mid-term youth turnout is always low. But these numbers suggest a generation profoundly disconnected from the electoral choices that will help shape their world.
Yet the decline need not be inevitable. If young women and men are actively engaged by their peers, or by communities and institutions that touch their lives, they respond. The Campus Election Engagement Project, a national nonpartisan effort that I founded in 2008, helps America’s colleges and universities use their resources and networks to engage America’s 20 million students in elections. We help schools take responsibility for getting their students to register, volunteer in campaigns, educate themselves on candidates and issues, navigate daunting new voter laws, and turn out at the polls. Coaching schools through creative and effective approaches drawn from campuses nationwide, we help administrators and faculty collaborate with each other and with student leaders to make electoral engagement a visible campus priority.