COLORADO SPRINGS — Midterm elections are just over a month away, and there are local efforts happening right now to get more young people registered to vote.
On Thursday afternoon, a student registration drive was held on campus at UCCS to encourage students to register. It was one of the many outreach efforts that has been happening over the past few months, and there are more to come in the weeks ahead.
“We want to educate people how to vote, educate them how to register, and educate them on the importance of voting,” said Kevin Velasco, who organized the registration event.
Velasco is part of the LatinX student union on campus. He got together a handful of different clubs from UCCS to participate in the drive, including the Pacific Islander Student Union, the African Student Association, the Native American Student Alliance, and black student union.
“The minority population, you know, LatinX people with Latinos, Latinas, the African American community, the Asian American community, they're severely underrepresented when it comes to elections,” said Velasco. “And I think it's our initiative as young people to get people to come out to vote, and to register to vote.”
The College Democrats and College Republicans on campus are also working together. In recent weeks, they've hosted voter registration drives, and have been canvassing on and off campus every week.
“So we're just educating kids on everything. We're even going dorms to dorms, and knocking on doors to be able to educate them,” said Dennis Molina, who’s part of College Democrats.
Molina wants young voters to know that their votes can make an impact in our community. Here are some of the messages he’s shared with others.
“If you guys want to actually make a difference, vote in your local elections. We have more power in local elections than national elections. So if you want an actual voice, please come out and vote,” said Molina.
According to the ACLU of Colorado, state-wide about 500,000 young people are eligible to vote, but are not exercising that right. That’s why the push on campus at UCCS to get younger voters to vote, is so strong.
“I would just encourage all young people to get out and vote. It's important to have equal representation and make sure that the new generation is having our voice equally represented in Colorado,” said Amanda Ford, also part of College Democrats.
Ford is also involved and she hopes that outreach will help change the low, young vote turnout.
“I care about this effort on campus because I think that young people in Colorado Springs don't vote as much as they should,” said Ford. “There are 295,000 student votes in Colorado, and that's enough to potentially determine a race.”
The Colorado Secretary of State's website says this year, in El Paso County, nearly 12% of registered voters are 18 to 24 years old. Meanwhile in Pueblo County, it's just over 10%. According to the office too, just over 49,000 people age 24 and younger cast their votes in the primary election this year, which was a turnout of just 2% of the nearly 1.1 million ballots counted in the primary election.
These are numbers those students hope increase in the next few weeks.
Soon, the groups will be moving to their “get out the vote” phase. They’ll be informing students about the ballot, how to fill it out, candidates and initiatives, and where to turn the ballot in.
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