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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Youth Vote Registers UMB Students

October 17 was the deadline to register to vote in this year’s Massachusetts elections. Here at UMass Boston the Youth Vote organization, under the auspices of MassPIRG, undertook the task of registering as many students as possible with a campaign blanketing classrooms and the halls of the campus. While it is more challenging to garner interest in an “off” year election, many students still capitalized on the opportunity to finalize their eligibility to vote.

Youth Vote is an organization sponsored by MassPIRG that focuses on grassroots efforts to mobilize the involvement of young people in politics. The organization believes that the only way for youth to be represented in politics is to become involved and hold politicians accountable to young people, making them a voting bloc that cannot be ignored. By increasing the interaction between our political leaders and our young people, Youth Vote believes new ways of thinking will emerge in politics and provide new ways for us to address our nation’s problems.

On the heels of last year’s election controversy it was thought that there would be increased interest in the electoral process, with a magnification of the importance of each vote. Often times here on campus, however, a willingness to even register was not all that pervasive. When asked about student interest in the voter registration drive here at UMB, Dan Villar, a MassPIRG volunteer who manned a registration table in Wheatley Hall replied, “They are and they aren’t [interested]. [Students] usually glance over and smile. I don’t know if it’s because they are already registered or aren’t interested.”

The “motor-voter” law enacted in the 1990’s did make it easier for most to register by allowing eligible voters to register when they received their driver’s license. Many student’s also have been registered by the voting drive last year, with piqued interest due to the national scale of a presidential election. This year interest was muted in comparison, perhaps due to the lack of an awareness of the local races and initiatives on the ballot or perhaps due to the voter apathy that has become synonymous with young citizens. Villar’s perspective of student voter involvement summed up the need for awareness about the issues and candidates, “Probably the majority [of students] don’t vote. They might think their vote won’t matter or they don’t think they have the time. Or they don’t know enough about the issues or the people running.”

The second part of the Youth Vote campaign here at UMB will be to work to increase the awareness of issues on this years ballot. This year, in addition to a Boston mayoral election and local city council elections, there is an initiative on the ballot called the Massachusetts Community Preservation Act (CPA). The CPA must be passed in each community for it to be enacted. Once it is, those communities will levy a small surcharge on property taxes, which will then be matched by the state. The revenue collected will only be allowed to be spent on improving the availability of affordable housing, maintaining open space, and historical preservation. A strong showing by young people at the polls could go a long way in addressing the housing crunch that directly impacts nearly all students, once again underscoring the importance of involvement in the electoral process by all eligible voters.

Election Day is November 6, and all eligible voters are encouraged to have their voice heard at the polls. If you have not registered to vote yet you may do so for future elections at your town or city hall, or voter registration forms are available in the MassPIRG office.