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Voter registration efforts surge at Georgia State

Volunteers Kerri Oransky and Kristin Bryant from Indivisible, a grassroots organization working to promote progressive politics, help students register to vote in Unity Plaza on Oct. 4. Photo by Vanessa Johnson | The Signal

Tuesday, Nov. 6 is Election Day, and historically, young people don’t represent themselves at the polls.

There has been a surge of efforts at Georgia State to increase voter registration and voter turnout as the midterm elections approach during a highly divisive political climate in America.

Indivisible, launched after Donald Trump’s election to the presidency, is a nationwide movement of thousands of volunteer-led local groups that engage in progressive advocacy and electoral work at the local, state and national level.

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Kristin Bryant represented the organization at Unity Plaza on Wednesday, Oct. 3.

“[Voting is] the most real and direct way for you to affect local, state and federal decision-making,” Bryant said. “If you don’t vote, people who may not reflect your wishes get to make those decisions for you.”

Bryant said there’s a reason Georgia State is being targeted for voter registration efforts.

“A college is more likely than other places to have people who just became old enough to register before now,” she said.

People between the ages of 18 and 29 have the lowest voter turnout rate—below 50 percent—according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

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However, this age range is also the only group to increase in voter turnout between the 2012 and 2016 election while the attendance of all other age groups has decreased.

According to Pew Research, younger generations make up a majority of the electorate, or the portion of the population that is eligible to vote.

Georgia State’s Student Government Association (SGA) encouraged voter registration online, and various student groups have provided registration resources at tables in Library Plaza.

Cherie Yoo is the president of the Korean Undergraduate Student Association at Georgia State has been working with Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

“The main reason we are doing this is because Asian-Americans have the lowest polling rate in the U.S. of any racial group and even more so for those our age,” Yoo said.

In order to get more people to register, Yoo said they were trying to give more incentives in the form of free T-shirts and doughnuts.

Serenity Whitfield, head of the Political Action Committee for the Georgia State branch of the NAACP said that the organization sees that a lot of young people are not voting.

“We are here to teach people the significance of voting,” Whitfield said.

The deadline to register to vote in Georgia’s midterms was Oct. 9, and it’s unfortunately too late for anyone who was inspired last-minute to participate in democracy.

Between 2013 and 2017, about 1.3 million Georgia residents were purged from the rolls, since they were inactive in voting.

The key tool for all voters’ needs ahead of election day is the My Voter Page (MVP) through the Georgia Secretary of State website.

In Georgia, employers are required to give employees two hours off work that are unpaid to vote, according to Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-404. However, this is only if there are two non-working hours available at the beginning or end of the shift during which polls are open.

Faculty of Georgia State are no exception to this rule, as clarified by a University System of Georgia policy.

For students living on campus who want to vote in the area, it’s necessary for them to update their voting address to their dorm address. This can be done online through MVP in under five minutes.

Students living on campus can even vote early at Georgia State. Voting is available on Oct. 23 and 24 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 30 Courtland St. NE.

For those living on the downtown campus who want to vote on Election Day, the polling location is Liberty Baptist Church, which is less than a mile walk from the University Commons.

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