NYPIRG : N.Y. state activist group hosts voter drive
It’s doubtful that people like junior Caroline Savage will be ‘rocking the vote’ with the likes of P. Diddy and Samuel L. Jackson this November, yet Savage and her organization are doing their part to ensure that more young people get to the polls.
Savage is a member of the New York Public Interest Research Group, which offers services around the Syracuse University campus to educate and register prospective student voters, as well as shuttling them to their nearest polling place come election time.
The program, which has been around since 1973, has achieved ‘great success’ this semester, Savage said. ‘We have registered over 800 students so far and are well on our way to reaching our goal of 1,200 for the semester,’ she said.
The timing for organizations like NYPIRG to campaign is crucial, since young Americans have traditionally drawn poor numbers at the polls in the past decade.
‘Youth voting is definitely a problem right now in terms of actually getting young people to the polls,’ said Vinny Napolitano, Syracuse College Republicans executive director, in an e-mail. Napolitano is also a columnist for The Daily Orange.
‘Very few people in the 18-24 age range are passionate about the issues enough to get involved in the democratic process, and even those who are sometimes wind up not voting,’ he said. ‘It’s a problem because until students start demanding their problems and concerns be addressed, there will be nothing done for our segment of society.’
NYPIRG hopes its efforts will translate into improved poll numbers this election season as well as in the 2008 presidential election, during which its services will also be available.
Savage especially hopes the turnout will be good this year, as she tries to remind young voters about the importance of casting their ballots.
‘I’d like them to remember that they really don’t have anything more important to do than vote on Tuesday. Yes, you have a paper due and a 40-page reading assignment and a 12:30 class and lacrosse practice. Being late on any one of those things doesn’t hold any sway on your future. Voting does,’ Savage said.
NYPIRG works on effecting policy reforms while training students and other New Yorkers to be advocates. The organization, which has chapters on 21 college campuses in New York state, has a chapter in Syracuse, which employs both Syracuse University and State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry students.
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