National Election Day "Vote" Kaleidoscopes own guide to everything you need to know to vote. (Photo by Sarah Adkins).Mark Linn - News Editor
news@insideuab.com 

Although many people disparage Millennials for their lack of involvement in the political process, there are many college students across the country and are UAB who are participating in the political process through “get out the vote” efforts, awareness campaigns and student-led political organizations. The UAB College Republicans and College Democrats are two active organizations on campus interested in getting their fellow students to the polls as well as advancing the causes of their party.


Kscope spoke with College Republican president, Elizabeth Earwood and College Democrat president, Robert Mardis III to hear their views on the election and college voters. Earwood is a political science student, and Mardis is a management student.

Kscope: What are the goals of your organization and how will your organization tackle the 2016 presidential election?

Earwood: One of UAB College Republicans’ central goals is to promote excellent citizenship among college students. In doing this, we understand the Republican viewpoints to be essential in promoting exceptional government policies and allowing the utmost freedoms as our founders intended. As far as the 2016 elections, so far we have had one debate view gathering for the first Republican debate. Overall for the primaries, our goal is to encourage people to simply get out and vote for a Republican no matter who it is. Then, once the primaries are completed we will put all our efforts to supporting whoever the Republican nominee is. 

Mardis: The overall goal of this organization is to train the next generation of leaders in the Democratic Party by networking in a piquant environment, geared towards demonstrating the importance of the political process...by the end of their involvement with the organization we hope they accept the challenge of being a leader with alacrity. As for the primaries we plan on advocating for a particular candidate by phone banking and passing out literature and just overall helping out as much as we can to see that a Democrat is elected to the White House.

Kscope: Who are you supporting for the 2016 election, and who will you support if they don’t receive the nomination?

Earwood: I support either Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio for President. I really appreciate Cruz’s firm stance on conservative principles. He has demonstrated multiple times that he is not ashamed to take stand against even those in the Republican Party who were not making wise decisions. I hesitate to support Sen. Cruz, because I’m afraid of his ability to win the general election. I really appreciate many of Sen. Rubio’s policies on immigration. It seems that he really gets it on immigration. Regardless of who wins the primary, I will support whoever is running against Hillary Clinton.

Mardis: My choice for president 2016 will have to be Bernie Sanders. And the reason I support Bernie is because he’s stayed consistently consistent and I know that’s redundant but that’s how consistent he has been with his views and most of the time they are spot on. When I hear Bernie speak I hear the same things I think in my head it is just in his voice and [what is] coming out of his mouth, so it’s easy for me to relate and be drawn to his message. But I do believe that the Democratic Party has two great candidates running for president in Bernie and Hillary, so if Bernie didn’t get the nomination Hillary will be an easy choice. 

Kscope: Do you have any other thoughts on the upcoming election?

Earwood: It seems that each presidential election is more important than the last. I hope that college students can really understand this as an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, something that could significantly impact our future.

Mardis: Regardless of who you vote for go vote let your voice be heard. I’m a true believer in if you have the power to affect a person who makes decisions for you and you don’t exercise your right to affect them you have no room to complain when nothing is done in your favor.


The ins and outs of voting in Alabama:


Making sure you’re eligible to vote can seem like a daunting process, especially if you’re voting for the first time or you lived outside of Alabama prior to attending UAB. Every state has different laws dictating voter registration, ID requirements, early voting, absentee ballots and even what times polling locations are open. Here’s what you need to know about Alabama’s voting requirements:

Registration

You can register to vote as long as you’re a U.S. citizen who will be at least 18 on Election Day and are an Alabama resident. If you attend school in Alabama you’re able to establish residency, as long as you intend to remain at school for the time being and make it your primary residence, even if you return to your home state over the summer. Voter application forms must be submitted in person or postmarked at least two weeks before the election.

Identification

As of June 2014, Alabama joined a number of other states in requiring some form of photo identification in order to vote. Acceptable forms of photo ID include:

- A valid Alabama driver’s license or any other photo ID issued by the state of Alabama or any other state government, including public college

- IDs issued in other states

- A valid U.S. passport

- Any valid student or employee ID from any school within the state, public or private.

- A valid U.S. military ID.


If you don’t present a valid photo ID when you go to vote, you’re still able to vote by provisional ballot. If you do this, you’ll need to present photo ID to the county Board of Registrars by 5 p.m. on the Friday following the election. The Jefferson County Board of Registrars is at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Birmingham.


Absentee ballots

In Alabama, you’re entitled to use an absentee ballot if you go to school outside your county or will be out of town on election day. Absentee ballot applications have to be submitted to your county election office at least five days before an election.


Why are young people not voting?


Youth voter participation has always lagged behind other demographic groups. There are a number of reasons for this, according to John McNulty, Ph.D., a UAB professor who studies electoral behavior and particularly the causes and consequences of voter turnout. One of the most basic is being registered to vote – registration is tied to residency and it’s very common for college-age people to move more than once in a given year.


“Another is that young people haven’t developed community ties in the same way older people have,” McNulty said. “They don’t know their neighbors, they don’t know the people who are in office – the people in office aren’t their peer group.”

Still another reason McNulty cited was that voting, like many other behaviors, is a habit.


“As young people age through their 20’s they either develop the habit or they don’t. And people who develop the habit become habitual voters and people who don’t become habitual non-voters,” McNulty said. “Young people haven’t developed that habit yet. And they’re at the stage of life where the habit takes a little extra time to develop.”


This is one of the reasons get out the vote efforts target young people, according to McNulty. Because the voting patterns of people under 30 are still malleable in a way that they aren’t in older demographics, young people are more likely to be receptive to the message that Get Out the Vote efforts spread.

“The amazing thing about Get Out the Vote is that very often when somebody votes it’s simply because they were asked,” McNulty said.


There are other factors in what’s likely to get young people voting. One is simply having access to information like polling locations and election dates and times. Another factor might be the issues brought up during the election.


“If it’s a national office, [it might be] something like student loan reform, or student loan forgiveness,” McNulty said. “If it’s on the local level, it might be getting rid of parking meters. It could be public safety – [that’s] a huge issue on the UAB campus.”  
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