Thomas Nieman, Staff Writer
Election Day is next month and it will mark the first time many Utica College students are eligible to cast their ballot in a presidential election. However, in order to do that they must be registered to vote.
The New York State voter registration deadline is Friday, Oct. 9. Students who would like to register to vote or have questions on the registering and voting process should contact the Office of Student Living and College Engagement (SLCE) in Strebel Student Center.
The SLCE office, with the help of the Student Government Association (SGA), “intends to get every eligible voter registered” through paper registration forms and will then mail them in for students, said Bethany VanBenschoten, assistant director of Leadership Development.
“We can help you with registering using UC’s address so you can cast your vote at the polling site right near campus and we intend to offer polling shuttles on Election Day, as long as COVID restrictions at that time still allow us to do so, as well as some virtual viewing parties,” VanBenschoten said.
Many UC students consider this election to be one of the most pivotal ones in American history and are enthusiastic about voting for the first time. Exercising the right to vote is essential to a healthy democracy, said Luke Perry, professor of Government and Politics. However, voter turnout in the United States is usually low compared to other Western democracies.
“This is partly because of individuals not caring or feeling informed enough to vote and partly because of our system, where individuals are responsible for registering themselves to vote, not the government, as is common elsewhere,” Perry said.
Young adults vote in the smallest numbers compared to all other age groups and elected officials will continue to pay less attention to their interests and needs and more attention to the interests and needs of older people, he explained.
“For instance, the government is much more active protecting and expanding policies and programs that benefit the elderly, such as Social Security and Medicare, than those that benefit college students and recent graduates, like increased tuition aid and providing student loan relief,” Perry said.
With many issues at stake in the November presidential election, several students on campus have expressed their intent to vote.
“I think this election is the pivot of American history,” said Isabella Gilbert, a junior. “I think that not only does voting help your society and your community, but it also shows that you’re attracted to the democratic process of voting. Being female, it took until the 1920’s and even later for us to get the right to vote, so I’m honoring my ancestors by voting.”
With the voter registration deadline quickly approaching and the presidential election almost one month away, junior Stephen Clark said everyone should exercise their right to vote at the federal, state and local levels.
“It’s very important that people start voting as soon as they’re able,” he said. “The decisions that are made now will impact us forever so it’s definitely up to us to pave the kind of future we want and being able to vote is one of the easiest ways that we’re able to do so.”
For information about voter registration, contact the SLCE office located in 205 Strebel Student Center or call (315) 792-3285.