COLLEGE PARK, MD According to preliminary results provided by local elections officials, turnout numbers at a local student precinct at University of Maryland, College Park (UMDCP) increased by 49 percent between the 2008 and 2012 elections.
“Despite the dire predictions of low youth turnout today, young people once again showed that when voter mobilization efforts pay attention to them, they show up on Election day,” said Lianne Berne, Maryland PIRG New Voters Project Campaign Coordinator and Senior at UMDCP.
Berne and the New Voter's Project, in coalition with other student groups at the University of Maryland as part of the TerpsVote coalition, spearheaded an intensive voter mobilization drive on campus. Over the past several weeks, they helped register and urge students to the polls on Election Day.
Using scientifically-proven voter outreach and mobilization techniques such as peer-to-peer phonebanks and canvasses, text message outreach, and classroom announcements, the campaign made 7,909 vote reminders in the days leading up to the election. They also helped to register over 4,000 young voters through a combination of pavement-pounding with registration forms attached to clipboards and the first ever “in-house” online voter registration system. The in-house online voter registration system was a partnership between students, the University of Maryland administration, and the Secretary of State’s office.
Creative methods such as campus-wide emails and social media events and “Exercise your Right to Vote!” tables also helped to build buzz on campus and reach thousands more potential voters.
“The best people to urge a young person to the poll is another young person,’ said Berne. ‘Our campaign shows definitively that if you pay attention to young voters, they will pay attention to you.’
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