Vote Naked Encourages Youth Voting On Campus
Hannah Li | Sept. 21, 2012, 8:33 a.m.
Dixie Morrison PO’ 15, the head of the new branch of Vote Naked on Pomona College’s campus, is trying to encourage 5C students to vote.
Vote Naked is a nonpartisan organization whose purpose is to encourage youth to vote. It emphasizes alternative voting methods, such as vote by mail, the preferred method of many students living on college campuses.
Morrison explained the odd name of the group: “If you’re filling out an absentee ballot from your room, you can do so naked, if you so wish. But you can do it in any other fashion, as well.”
The group is attempting to address the problem of low voter turnout among 18 to 29 year olds, the age group with the lowest voter turnout.
Morrison said that for the last four decades, 50 percent or less of the youth electorate has turned out to vote on presidential election years.
"That’s pitiful, really," she said. "In my opinion, it’s heartbreaking."
The rates are even lower during off years.
In 2010, only 22 percent of citizens aged 21 to 24 cast their ballot, according to the U.S. Census.
Morrison said that while many may not realize it, low youth turnout has caused politicians to ignore issues that concern young people.
“We’re not talking enough about things like student loan rates, health care, birth control, getting jobs right out of college and maintaining funding for state schools,” Morrison said.
Senior citizens, in contrast, have much higher voting rates. In 2010, 58.9 percent of citizens 65 and older voted, almost 40 points higher than the 18 to 24 age group.
This disparity has led politicians to pay more attention to senior citizens, and less to college students, according to Morrison.
She explained how Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential candidate, emphasized that his Medicare plan would not affect anyone over the age of 55.
“That to me sums it up," she said. "It’s because they know people over the age of 55 vote very reliably … You would never say that, if you knew that people under the age of 55 were as likely to vote as people over the age of 55."
Still, many college students do not vote.
Sabrina Cash PO ’16, who did not vote in the primaries, said, “If I were to hear about an issue, I would generally take a stance on it, but it’s not something that immediately relates to my life. And I’m already really busy with school, too.”
Sarah Servin CM ’15, president of the Claremont College Democrats, explained her view on the lower youth voter turnout.
“I think that college student voter turnout and all-around involvement in politics is all about access and not apathy,” she said.
Her goal for the Claremont College Democrats is to “make voting as easy and accessible as possible.”
As head of Vote Naked, Morrison is attempting to do just that. She is raising awareness of low youth turnout, helping students register to vote and educating them about applying for absentee ballots.
She is holding registration drives at Frary Dining Hall during Thursday dinner, Friday lunch and Friday dinner.
On top of these efforts, she said she is “trying to make voting cool again.”
Servin supports these efforts and said that students “have the tools and the power to make change if they want to.”