USF Votes, an initiative started by the McCarthy Center in partnership with the Andrew Goodman Foundation, has registered 1,600 students since Aug. 1, 2018. The initiative, which started in fall 2017, registered 1,429 voters last year, bringing the total to over 3,000.
“We [want to] make voting as accessible and as easy as possible,” Angeline Vuong, assistant director for the McCarthy Center, said. “There is a stigma of young people not voting. Students think that one voice isn’t gonna make a difference, but the collective voice will.”
Vuong’s initiative would eventually like to see 100 percent of eligible voters at USF register to vote and turnout on Election Day, which is Nov. 6.
During the 2016 presidential election, 76.7 percent of eligible USF students registered to vote and 54.6 percent voted, according to data from the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement. The national average voting rate across college campuses is 50.4 percent.
Vuong said USF Votes was founded in order to get students, faculty and staff registered, “educate them about issues and candidates” and ultimately encourage them to actually vote. “That was the imperative,” Vuong said. “To make sure that our diverse voices are heard and are at the polls and are represented in our walls of power.”
With midterms approaching, USF Votes organized a “Week of Action” from Oct. 17-22 to inform voters on issues involved in the upcoming elections.
USF Votes has two student ambassadors, sophomore Amaya Fox, lead ambassador, and sophomore Ariana Robert Martinez.
The Andrew Goodman Foundation, which USF Votes is partnered with, honors Andrew Goodman, who was murdered for raising awareness about equal access to voting in the 1960s. The New York City-based nonprofit aims to encourage students’ civic engagement across the country.
“We’re supposed to be a super social justice-based campus, and, while there’s a group of people that do feel passion about our mission and what we do on campus, there’s also a lot of [political] inactivity,” Martinez said. “But it’s really important for students to be involved in civic duty. Wake up, all these [political issues are] happening around you, [and] you might feel like they may not affect you right now but they will affect you in the future.”
“I was frustrated with everything that was in place, and I wanted to find something where I could take action and actually do something about it, rather than just sitting and brewing in my own angst and anger,” Fox said. “I [dove] into [USF Votes] and once I started doing this, I realized how immense the impact of registering students to vote on college campuses really is.”