Barriers to Student Voting—National Press Club Discussion Rebroadcast on C-SPAN

Campus Election Engagement Project’s Paul Loeb and Thurgood Marshall Jr. discussed overcoming disenfranchisement of the younger electorate this November

(Washington, DC)––Earlier this week, the National Press Club hosted a conversation with Paul Loeb, founder of the Campus Election Engagement Project, and Thurgood Marshall Jr. on overcoming the challenges and barriers that could prevent college students from voting, leading to greater disenfranchisement of the younger electorate this November. The conversation was rebroadcast on C-SPAN.

“You have many campuses that are physically closed, students are taking classes online, you have some that are a hybrid, and you have some like the University of North Carolina that was basically open and is now closed because COVID-19 was running rampant,” said Paul Loeb “And so, to understate it, it presents significant challenges that were not there a year ago and are not there in normal times.” 

Engaging the youth vote is critical in this year’s election. But the speakers emphasized that college students might have trouble engaging when they lack the traditional forms of campus community. Beyond the effects of COVID-19, students may feel less motivated to vote this year given misinformation on the voting process, substantial disenchantment with both presidential candidates, and perceived barriers to voting. 

“To throw down a gauntlet that people are trying to make it harder for them, Michael Wines wrotebefore the pandemicin the New York Times with specific examples in several states including Florida, Texas, and New Hampshire of just some of the blatant efforts to make it considerably difficult for students to vote,” said Thurgood Marshall Jr. “That should tell students something about how much power they have over the future of the country.” 

Loeb highlighted what the Campus Election Engagement Project (CEEP) has found effective in meeting these challenges. CEEP worked with over 400 campuses to help engage college students in 2018, playing a part in student turnout doubling from four years before. This time, they are working with over 500 colleges and universities across the country to make sure all students are able to participate in our democracy during the COVID-19 pandemic, using tools such as nonpartisan voting guides and animated videos on the vote by mail process. CEEP student fellows also host virtual classroom visits to engage students and discuss the importance of voting.  

“The goal is to create a culture where the support of registration, voter education and getting out the vote is so omnipresent within the campus that the students do indeed end up participating,” added Loeb.

If you would like to interview Paul Loeb or learn more about CEEP, please email Daniel Schultz at dan@campuselect.org

Listen to the full discussion on C-SPAN HERE.

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