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Rutgers PIRG registers 800 voters for 2016 election

NJPIRG is working to register 1,000 students through the week of Sept. 26 by tabling, visiting classrooms and visiting greek houses. So far, they have registered more than 830 students in four days. – Photo by Photo by Nikhilesh De | The Daily Targum

Luca Trumbull believes that the 2016 election might be the most important, and the scariest, in recent years. 

The Rutgers chapter of the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group registered more than 800 students through the first four days of their “New Voters Project,” which concludes today with registration tables on the College Avenue, Cook, Douglass and Livingston campuses.

NJPIRG hoped to register 1,000 people over the course of the week, said Trumbull, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student. This is part of a nationwide PIRG event, which began Monday on National Voter Registration Day.

“(NJPIRG) is a non-partisan group that has a lot of campaigns that it focuses on … and this semester we’re focusing on getting people to register to vote because the 2016 election is extremely important and very scary,” he said.

There are 58 schools nationwide working on this campaign, said Arielle Mizrahi, a School of Arts and Sciences senior. The New Voters Project is NJPIRG’s only planned campaign for the Fall 2016 semester, and it is entirely student-run.

NJPIRG members are registering voters through tabling and by visiting classes and greek houses, Mizrahi said.

While the group is hoping for 1,000 registered voters this week, their ultimate goal is to register 2,650 students before Nov. 8, she said in an email. NJPIRG hopes to register 4,000 students state-wide before the election.

The Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA), the Residence Hall Association, Rutgers University Democrats, the Rutgers University College Republicans and RU Progressives are all working with PIRG on the campaign.

“In this initiative to get as many Rutgers students registered as possible and increase voter participation, it’s incredibly important for the campus to work together,” she said.

Trumbull tabled on the Brower steps Thursday afternoon, where he asked students whether they were registered. Those who were not already registered were encouraged to do so. Students who were registered were encouraged to change their registration to Rutgers.

This would allow those students to vote on-campus in November, he said. Other students who wish to remain registered in their hometown could request an absentee ballot.

“The millennial voting bloc is actually the biggest voting bloc in the nation, but we also show up to polls the least so we think it’s very important that kids our age are going out to the polls and that our voices are heard from the national election to down-ballot candidates,” he said.

About 69.2 million millennials are eligible to vote, or about 31 percent of the eligible population, as of April 2016, according to the Pew Research Center.

While they are one of the largest groups of potential voters, they are the smallest group of actual voters across the last three presidential elections. In 2008, only 50 percent of eligible millennial voters actually got out to the polls. This number went down in 2012.

The Pew analysis accounted for millennials in 2008 being older in 2012, meaning that the same group who voted in 2008 was analyzed in 2012.

Only 21.3 percent of millennials turned out in the 2014 midterm elections, according to the International Business Times. The Times considered voters between the ages of 18 and 29 in 2014 as millennials, while Pew counted 31-year-olds as millennials in 2012.

According to the International Business Times, millennials typically do not vote in midterm elections. In 2010, the age group made up 13 percent of the voting bloc.

Millennials in particular vote less than other age groups. Millennials appear to still be as politically engaged as young people in 1987, but they do not vote as often.

“Millennials in 2016 are less likely to vote or try to influence others vote than were the ‘80s generation in the 1987 survey, or the first wave of postwar baby boomers in 1967,” The Washington Post reported.

“If you don’t vote, you can’t complain,” Trumbull said. “It’s your constitutional right - some would say it’s your duty, and I think if you want to sacrifice your right to vote that’s your choice, but then you also have to be okay with the consequences of that.”

Nikhilesh De is the news editor of The Daily Targum. He is a School of Engineering senior. Follow him on Twitter @nikhileshde for more.

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