SAM ROBERTS, CITY ROOM (NEW YORK TIMES)
October 18, 2010
With two weeks left before Election Day, City University officials are hoping to mobilize New Yorkers who typically have been among the least likely people to vote: college-age young adults.
On Tuesday, CUNY will kick off a campaign called CUNY Votes, not only to get out the vote, but also to urge students to sign up to be poll workers.
“They can make $300 for working on Election Day while rendering an important civic service to the community,” said Jay Hershenson, the senior vice chancellor for university relations, calling the job “a terrific learning experience and an important effort in light of citywide poll-worker shortages and the lack of familiarity with the new machines and ballots.”
The CUNY Votes effort also includes a Facebook page and discounts on collegiate apparel at campus bookstores to encourage student voters to wear their college colors to the polls on Nov. 2.
A census survey found that in 2008, 48 percent of all 18- to 24-years-olds were registered in New York State, the lowest of any age group. And only 40 percent of those registered young adults voted, also the lowest of any age group. In comparison, 67 percent of people 65 to 74 were registered and 62 percent of those registered actually voted.
New Yorkers 18 to 21 years old who were in college voted at much higher rates than their counterparts who were not in college — 57 percent to 16 percent in 2008 — according to an analysis by John H. Mollenkopf, director of the Center for Urban Research at CUNY’s Graduate Center. Still, Professor Mollenkopf said, “New York City college students were a bit less likely to vote than their counterparts in the rest of the United States.”
Yet another study, released last month by Project Vote, an advocacy group, found that citizens under age 30 made up 21 percent of the adult citizen population in 2008, but only 17 percent of the voters. If people under 30 had voted at the same rate as people over 30 that year, seven million more votes would have been cast nationwide.
“Instead of bemoaning the truly abysmal turnout of voters in New York during elections,” Mr. Hershenson said, “the CUNY community is rallying to be front and center for civic responsibility.”
Read the original City Room entry here.