OPINION: Student political groups crucial in getting fellow millennials to vote

Hannah Swanson, sophomore in architecture, registers to vote after Jessie Gittemier, junior in political science, and Madeline Ames, freshman in political science, explain the process of registering in the state of Kansas at a voter registration event hosted by the Young Democrats and College Republicans on Oct. 13, 2016. (File Photo by Regan Tokos | The Collegian)

There’s enough voting data and studies showing that college-aged Americans’ tendency to not show up to the polls, it almost seems redundant to even say it again. It’s true, though. Voters between the ages of 18 and 24 have consistently voted at lower rates than any other age group, according to USA Today article “Why college students aren’t voting (and why it matters)” by Collin Brennan and Kristi Cook.

That doesn’t mean there are no voters within this age group who are politically active. In fact, at Kansas State we have students encouraging other students to make it out to vote.

Taylor Latham, junior in finance, and Jessie Gittemeier, junior in political science, are presidents of groups on campus, K-State College Republicans and K-State Young Democrats, respectively. Despite being associated with two different political parties, the groups have worked together on events to encourage other students to vote.

Of course, they are still political groups and generally support either more conservative or liberal stances in politics. Latham said College Republicans support Republican political candidates and Gittemeier said Young Democrats work with typically liberal agendas. Still, the two collaborated for a voter registration drive this year.

“Both groups, obviously, want to stress the importance of voting,” Latham said. “So we decided to work together in a bipartisan effort.”

Particularly before the upcoming election, these groups’ efforts to help their peers register to vote are extremely crucial. You’ve heard it before, but the millennial’s vote matters and any encouragement to make sure people know that is much appreciated.

Even for those of us who may not be as involved with the political parties as the students in these groups, having them around during voting times is nice. They go the extra mile to change the statistics of millennials’ low voting turnout.

Just as important, if not more so, is the community in these groups. It can be frustrating when you’re interested in something and no one around seems to share the same opinion. Gittemeier and Latham agree: Student political groups help those with similar opinions interact, just like any other campus club.

I may not be directly involved with any of these groups, but I can still appreciate their work. In fact, it was a student from a political party organization who got a registration form in my hands.

What they do is create an environment on campus hospitable to differing parties’ views and agendas. The point of college is to expand your horizons and experience different perspectives. You might get that in other clubs, but with all the political stuff going on right now, it’s nice to have these groups around.

Kelsey Kendall
Hi everyone! I'm a senior in journalism and cultural anthropology. My favorite things are storytelling, coffee and meeting new people. In that order.