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Voter engagement high for students

Since 2014, the percentage of SVSU student voters has doubled.

Riley Hupfer, the director of the Center for Community Engagement, supplied statistics for this increase in registered voters.

“The percentage of SVSU students voting doubled during the 2018 election compared to the 2014 election, from 18.4 percent to 36.8 percent last year,” he said.

Hupfer said the increase mirrors national trends.

“Our increases are in line with national trends, which is very exciting to see,” he said.

Hupfer credited the Cardinals Vote Program’s creation to the rise in voting numbers.

“The Cardinals Vote Program was developed in 2018 through participation in the Campus Vote Project’s Voter Friendly Campus Program, as well as the American Democracy Project,” Hupfer said. “It is a nonpartisan initiative that is all about promoting SVSU student voter registration, education and turnout at the polls.”

The Cardinals Vote Program was created because of a need seen in the SVSU community.

“We saw a need to expand on efforts from the past, to bring more on-campus groups and community partners together to promote civic engagement,” Hupfer said.

Marisa Cardinalli, a political science and communications junior, is a Democracy Fellow through the Center of Community Engagement who joined the Cardinals Vote program.

“I chose to be involved in this project because I know I have a voice and that it deserves to be heard,” she said. “It’s that simple. I understand that my peers have a voice that deserves to be heard, as well. Voting makes these voices heard.”

Alina DeVoogd, a political science and Spanish junior, is also a member of the Cardinals Vote program.

“My position specifically is through the Campus Election Engagement Project (CEEP), which is a national, nonpartisan project that works with colleges and universities across the country to engage students with elections,” she said.

DeVoogd said students need encouragement and guidance when it comes to voting.

“Students want to talk to friends and peers who welcome and positively encourage them,” she said. “A lot of times, students have told me, they’re tired of people telling them they need to register but without explaining why or the steps after. Students are looking for answers to questions.”

Justin Weller, a political science junior, said students should find something they are passionate about and get engaged.

“Simply paying attention to current events is the first step to getting involved,” he said “Whatever is important to you can be affected by local, state or national political decisions. Then, drive your passions into civic engagement, whether that is through civil protest, voting or simply signing a petition.”

DeVoogd said voting is important because it gives people a voice and power to make change.

“Young people have power,” she said. “We don’t have to look for it; we have it already. We have so much power that we can exercise to create the world we want to live in.”

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