ALBANY COUNTY The 2008 presidential elections saw some of the highest turnout among young voters ever recorded, and as the 2012 election approaches efforts are underway on college campuses across America to ensure that increased interest was not a fluke.
At the University at Albany, a newly formed student group called Think Globally, Vote Locally has worked to register nearly 1,000 students in fewer than 10 days. The original club was founded by a group of SUNY Geneseo students during the presidential election eight years ago.
“Students have elected to cast their vote en masse where they live eight months out of the year instead of by absentee ballot,” said group organizer Martha Mahoney, an English major in her final year at UAlbany.
Mahoney said the group was established in a matter of days in October, when a guest speaker from the original SUNY Geneseo group came to a College Democrats club meeting. Five students worked to spread the message and days later a collaboration of other clubs on campus came together to register students to vote. Though it has its roots in a Democrat organization, the Think Globally initiative is a nonpartisan effort to increase voter registration.
The 21-year-old said she feels it is important students have a say in not only who is elected president, but in local politics as well. She said many students don’t understand how many social justice issues and SUNY policies are determined at the state level, so voting in every election is important.
“With a student power bloc this large, it means that students will have a voice in Albany politics like never before,” said Mahoney. “It means we’re empowering not only this class year, but years to come. State legislators will look at us and realize that students do vote — meaning they have to think twice before cutting financial aid, jacking up tuition, keeping the minimum wage low.”