Rutgers students cast a ballot for democracy

BY Michael Hill, Correspondent |

The RU voting t-shirts were popular at the voter registration table in Rutgers University’s Douglass Student Center. Students, in a nonpartisan way, were casting a ballot for democracy, completing forms to make sure they can take part in the midterm election.

“I know it’s important to. It’s very important during these times to go out there and vote,” said sophomore Sarah Abughannam.

Rutgers Center for Youth Political Participation started the voter registration drive during the summer with the football team. Now, on this last day to register before the midterm elections, it’s giving other students the opportunity — others who seem very excited about registering and voting.

Daniel Clark pulled an incomplete form from his backpack and finished it at the table.

“It feels good. It feels actually very empowering in a way I didn’t realize it would. It makes you feel like you’re actually making a difference,” said Clark.

Eighteen-year-old Yakir Eylon is registering for the first time as well.

“I feel like a grown man now. I feel like a grown adult,” he said.

Student Chelsea Phuangthong wants to ensure her voice counts for funding higher education.

“I feel like I’m contributing to the community much more,” she said. “Older people are voting for parties that don’t really help school districts and universities, so I feel like I’m contributing to the population that’s going to help where I basically am most of the day.”

“A lot of students want to make their voices heard in November, so since today’s the last day everyone’s kind of rushing to get their voter registrations in by today,” said Jessica Ronan, program coordinator for the RU Center for Youth Political Participation.

Dr. Elizabeth Matto directs Eagleton’s Center for Youth Political Participation and talks about the science behind youth and civic engagement.

“I think there’s a misunderstanding about young adults that they’re uninterested, that they’re disengaged, but there’s plenty of research that shows when you reach out to young adults, when you seek to mobilize them, when you try to engage them in the political process, they’re very responsive,” Matto said.

The deadline to register is midnight Tuesday. If mailing the form, the envelope must have Tuesday’s postmark.

Student volunteers say they get some who decline to register and won’t vote.

“They actually still take some of the voting paraphernalia so they actually still promote getting involved as a student to vote, so it’s great,” said volunteer Rebekah Mann.