Today, University of Connecticut students, faculty and staff will head to the Mansfield Community Center to cast votes in the 2016 election. Votes will be cast for both federal, state and local candidates, with several UConn alumni on the ballot. While the university has provided information for students in regards to voter registration, as also facilitated by the UConn PIRG student group, more should be done to ensure that all students who are eligible can easily register and get to polling places today and during future elections.
The University set up a voter information page on the Registrar’s website, reminding students that “if you are a student living on campus or live off campus elsewhere in the town of Mansfield you are eligible to register to vote in Mansfield.” In addition to information regarding voter registration, the University also urges students to register ahead of time as opposed to relying on “Election Day Registration,” which is time consuming, especially for students with a full class schedule to consider.
While the University has historically provided bus transportation from the heart of the Storrs campus to the local polling location, the Mansfield Community Center, the University should consider attempting to facilitate the opening of a polling place on campus in the future. All registered students in Storrs will have to travel to the Mansfield Community Center to vote; considering the layout of the campus, dormitories and off-campus residencies, it would encourage greater voter turnout if the polling place were nearer to the center of campus.
In 2012, only 38 percent of the 18-24 year old demographic, also the majority of the Storrs student population, voted nationally, according to CNBC. With voter morale particularly low during this election, it is of greater importance than ever before to ameliorate the voting process and encourage students to commit time to travel to polling places and vote. Though the University has done a good job in past elections, and there is no reason to expect a lesser-effort this election cycle, there can never be enough effort toward encouraging student voting.
Though politically-minded students and those engaged in the election will likely travel to polls without encouragement, even if doing so requires inconvenience in regards to transportation, others will not. In the future, the University should seriously consider all available channels and efforts to secure a polling place on campus, so as to ensure the voice of students, faculty and staff are heard in November.