Grad Student Jill Laufer: Demystifying Registration, Voting for College Students

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

POLITICAL SCIENCE NOW (AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE ASSOCIATION, WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- Jill Laufer, Master of Arts candidate in Political Science director of government and community relations for Associated Students Inc., San Francisco State University, is a guest contributor for the RAISE the Vote Campaign.

“One of our first events of the year was held on National Voter Registration Day, September 24, where we registered nearly 100 students in just a few hours. On the lead up to the registration event, and also in my capacity as a [teaching assistant] for a large Introduction to American Politics course, I took an informal survey of those students who when approached were uninterested in registering or voting, many of whom were eligible for the first time,” Laufer writes. “Why did they not want to participate? I found that many of the students who were most reluctant to register or consider voting were the least familiar with the basic how-to of voting. These students were generally interested in topics and issues affected by politics, and many wanted to participate. The problem for many was that they were unsure of where to even start.

“As much of the youth non-voter literature suggests, what could be interpreted as disengagement is really just too little exposure to knowledge about the process of registering and voting.

“This lack of exposure leaves you unsure of how to participate and creates a confidence gap at the beginning of their relationship with the electoral process. This can stymie a sense of political efficacy in the process itself.”