As many as 500 students are now eligible to vote in the November general election, thanks to the efforts of 11 campus organizations that participated in USC’s National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday.
The Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, in partnership with the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office, USC Undergraduate Student Government, USC Political Student Assembly, USC College Republicans, USC College Democrats and other USC student organizations held the registration drive to help USC students complete their voter registration in Los Angeles County.
Voter turnout among millennials has reached an all-time low in past elections and is the lowest it has been in 40 years. As of 2014, an estimated 69.2 million millennials — adults between the ages of 18 and 35 — were voting-age, yet only 42 percent of millennials were registered to vote, according to the Campus Vote Project.
Meghan Ginley, the community engagement director for the Unruh Institute, hopes that college students will voice their opinion and vote in November.
“Millennials could have a huge impact on this election if we get them out to vote,” Ginley said. “Something I have noticed working with students is that a lot of millennials are either very engaged or the complete opposite and very apathetic. So what we want to do is help the people who are apathetic find something that they are passionate about and are interested in getting engaged with.”
It’s a demographic that both candidates are having to work hard to convince. According to polls, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have trouble appealing to young voters. Donte Miller, the external affairs director for Graduate Student Government, said that this could account for low voter turnout among millennials.
“It’s a mixture of both the climate and people not liking either candidate,” Miller said. “It’s a mixture of apathy and unwillingness to just vote, the belief that it doesn’t matter if we vote. But it matters.”
Many millennial voters were in support of Senator Bernie Sanders, who spoke about student debt and providing resources to college students.
Pew Research Center findings show that millennials not only have more debt than any other generation in U.S. history, but also face higher unemployment than the past two generations.
“I think it’s important that people exercise their right to know what is going on,” Miller said. “It’s important that students get out in their community and are aware of what is going on so they can.”
Jonathan Zhang, a senior majoring in architecture and a member of USC College Democrats, stressed it would be too detrimental to the nation not to cast a vote.
“I’m voting because I think the stakes are extremely high in this election, and it does seem like it doesn’t matter,” Zhang said. “But you have to do your part and you have to realize that you’re one of many people.”