TerpsVote campaigns for higher student voter turnout

Photo courtesy of TerpsVote

While the presidential nominees are campaigning for the Nov. 8 general election, TerpsVote is lobbying for University of Maryland students to get registered to vote.

“TerpsVote is a coalition of organizations across campus, organized by the SGA (Student Government Association), to basically bring all the interested parties together to register students to vote,” said Mihir Khetarpal, a junior government and politics and economics double major and the SGA’s director of governmental affairs.

Other student groups involved with the initiative include political organizations such as College Democrats, College Republicans, libertarian groups, third-party groups and “Terps for” groups who support the running presidential candidates. The campaign is not limited to political groups, however; grassroots activism-based organizations, such as the Residence Hall Association (RHA) and MaryPIRG are also involved.

“RHA sees a lot of value in the TerpsVote coalition as it brings together student groups from all over campus,” said junior government and politics and finance double-major Dana Rodriguez, who serves as the RHA’s student groups and organizations liaison.

Since 2008, TerpsVote has been working to increase student voter registration. During this election cycle, the coalition has been focusing on two main aspects: grassroots campaigning and social media.

TerpsVote has been registering students to vote at events such as debate watch parties and the First Look Fair. The SGA also purchased a digital system called TurboVote, which allows students to register to vote, update their voter registrations or request an absentee ballot online, according to its website.

The system can be easily shared by posting its website link on social media or including it on listservs and in emails, Khetarpal said. SGA President Katherine Swanson made the student body aware of this registration option via email at the start of the semester.

“In this election, along with every other election, it’s important for students to vote because our age group is underrepresented in terms of voting,” Khetarpal said.

An estimated 69.2 million Millenials, adults ages 18 to 35 in 2016, were citizens of voting age as of April 2016, according to Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. This faction nearly mirrors the 69.7 million Baby Boomers – citizens between ages 52 and 70; both generations make up approximately 31 percent of the eligible voting population. Only 46 percent of eligible Millennials self-reported that they voted in 2012, however, according to Pew Research Center.

The groups involved with the TerpsVote coalition seek to promote student involvement in the national community to increase Millenials’ voices in societial discourse.

“TerpsVote promotes larger civic engagement,” Rodriguez said, “which will carry through beyond student experiences at the University of Maryland.”