For Immediate Release
The Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project has launched early voting campaigns in several states in an effort to help young people turn out to vote this Election Season.
Since local partner, NCPIRG (North Carolina Public Interest Research Group) launched their get-out-the-vote efforts on campuses across the state, large initial turnout has been reported at the on-campus early voting sites.
“I’m so excited to see how many students went out to vote this year. Over the summer, the board of elections almost didn’t give us an early voting site, but student government continued to push for it so our students, faculty, and staff had an easy way to vote,” said Rachel Turner, a junior senator in the North Carolina State University Student Government.
“When we compare the 550 who voted in 2008 for the NC State precinct (01-01) to the over 13,000 at the early voting site for Talley in 2012, we can see how invaluable having the early voting site here has been. It’s great to see young people exercising their right to vote,” said Turner. The preliminary numbers show that early voting turnout for the precincts around NCSU (01-01, 01-23, 01-31) exceeds 2008 early voting numbers by almost 25%.
To launch early voting, NCPIRG hosted hipster-themed “I Voted Before It Was Cool” events at North Carolina State University and North Carolina Central University on Oct. 18 when the early voting sites opened. They held similar events at Appalachian State, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, Western Carolina University and University of North Carolina – Asheville when students returned from fall break the following week. Students who voted early took pictures wearing paper mustaches that say “I Voted” to show how voting can be “hip and cool.”
“There’s a lot of talk about young people being less motivated to vote in this year’s election, but we know that reaching out to young people where they are can boost youth turnout,” stated Renford Lynch, Campaign Coordinator for NCPIRG’s non-partisan New Voters Project and sophomore statistics major at North Carolina State University.
In the next three days, students will urge thousands to the polls through proven on the-ground and on-line strategies.
In a push to harness mobile technology, leaders will ask students to become ‘text out the vote’ captains and send on-the-spot messages urging their friends to vote. Research published in 2007 by researchers at NCPIRG’s New Voters Project, Princeton University and the University of Notre Dame found that text message reminders can increase turnout among young voters by four percentage points. Across North Carolina, NCPIRG has made over 69,000 GOTV reminder contacts to students. At North Carolina State alone, over 24,000 contacts were made, including 20,000 text message reminders.
“This site has made it convenient for students to walk up and vote, especially considering many students don’t have a car to get to the voting sites on Election Day,” said Ren Pridgeon, chief judge at precinct 01-35 and a lead poll worker at North Carolina State’s early voting site. “I’ve been working the polls for almost 3 decades and I’ve seen more young people turn out at this early voting site than any other poll location – they come between classes and are often in a rush, but they take the time to vote here.”
NCPIRG student leaders will also storm dorms, organize canvasses of student neighborhoods and group phone banks to contact as many students as possible in the days leading up to the election to remind them to cast a ballot.
“With just three days to go,” said Lynch, “we’ve got a shrinking window to make sure that the voices of students in North Carolina are heard on Election Day.”
The Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project is one of the largest on the ground, non-partisan young voter mobilization campaigns in the country. Over the past 25 years, we have helped to register more than 1.7 million young people and make millions of personal get out the vote reminders. In 2012, the campaign will target 75 campuses in 17 states with intensive youth vote campaigns that will leverage proven on the ground and online peer-to-peer techniques to turn out young voters.