This year’s midterm elections have been making headlines across the country, and Colorado College has already begun taking steps to ensure its students are ready to cast their ballots in November. New Era Colorado, a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to registering voters and increasing turnout, hosted three voter registration drives beginning over New Student Orientation and continuing through First week.
Sophomore Kadin Mangalik, one of the co-chairs of CC Democrats, helped bring New Era to campus and organize voter registration drives in the hopes of engaging students early on in the democratic process, particularly first–years.
“The goal [of the drives] is just to help as many students as possible to vote in Colorado because we think it’s important for students to participate politically and make a voice in their community and country,” Mangalik said. “We want to make it as easy as possible for CC students to do that.”
So far, a couple hundred students have registered since NSO. Mangalik explained that while voter registration is important, and this figure is encouraging, turnout is the real problem for CC students.
As of 2016, around 75 percent of CC students were registered to vote in Colorado; however, only 40 percent of these registered students actually turned in a ballot in the 2016 election.
“CC is above average in registration, but below average in turnout,” Mangalik said.
Mangalik partially attributes this low turnout rate to the demographics of the college, arguing that since few students are originally from Colorado, they’re “less invested” in local politics. He also said that in 2016, most students turned in their ballots in the final days before the election, and there was “a lot of procrastination.” Mangalik and CC Democrats plan to emphasize early voting this fall in an effort to raise turnout. They also plan to increase campaigning about the simplicity of turning in a ballot: students can drop their ballots off at Worner and vote without having to leave campus.
Mangalik also hopes to show CC students that their social activism can be realized directly through political action.
“At CC, a lot of students care a lot about social issues and environmental issues, but they don’t necessarily see that translate into politics,” Mangalik said. “I think that by voting, you can make a very strong impact on real people’s lives on real issues; I think it’s important to make that connection [for students].”
Ballot measures like this fall’s Amendment 73 offer some of best opportunities for “real” impact for Colorado residents.
Colorado was ranked the country’s number one economy by U.S. News and World Report last year, and yet it ranks 48th in education spending and 49th in teacher pay. Amendment 73 would increase education funding and have a significant impact on students and teachers across the state.
Mangalik hopes Amendment 73 and other ballot measures will encourage CC students to cast their ballots this November in addition to some of the “fantastic” candidates running.
“A lot of students don’t vote think that their vote matters…but it does,” Mangalik said. “Having CC students turn out would make a huge impact.”
Please note that there will be additional voter registration drives on Sept. 25, Oct. 1, Oct. 29-30 and Nov. 6-7.