Colorado Public Interest Research Group’s New Voters Project has been running a campaign all semester to raise awareness about voting among students. This month the Auraria branch of CoPIRG hosted debate parties on campus so students could come to watch the presidential and vice presidential debates.
“We think that it’s really important that students are engaged in the election and in what’s going on,” said campus organizer Lindsay Jakows. “We want to invite as much of the campus as possible, and as a nonpartisan group, we want to show both sides.”
The debate parties were held in West Classroom, and the debates were streamed live on a large screen.
The debate parties were part of the group’s effort to keep students who are already registered informed and ready to vote, as well as to encourage participation in other forms of activism and community involvement. “Getting students to care about voting is the most basic thing you have to get students to care about before they’ll care about anything else CoPIRG works for,” said Jakows. “I also think it’s really powerful to say ‘we want your voice.’ You have a chance to make a difference in Colorado [elections], and also in other ways by working on campaigns, which is what we will be trying to do next semester.”
Student campaign coordinator for the New Voters Project Balsam Hamid said that it is especially important for the campaign to get students who are first-time voters engaged in the election. “[We are] pushing the young students to vote,” Hamid said. “Some students who are just turning 18 need someone to give them a push to vote.”
CoPIRG’s New Voters Project has been working to engage students in the election all semester, registering people to vote, and hosting events like the debate parties. The group recently held a photobooth, where students could have their pictures taken holding signs declaring why they planned on voting, to be piled into a collage and sent to the candidates.
Jakows said that this election is especially important for students in Colorado because “the big thing about Colorado is that the presidential race here could be decided by 600 votes. A lot of students aren’t aware of that and of how much power they have. Higher education funding is something that’s been an issue here in Colorado, which is something that a lot of students care about.”
According to Jakows, the group has registered a conservatively estimated 1,155 students on Auraria campus to vote this semester. “We’re very happy with that, so now we’re moving into our ‘get out the vote’ phase where we make a bunch of reminder contacts through calling, texting, social media. Our goal is to make 12,000 contacts like that,” Jakows said.
The group will be running a Halloween-themed campaign today called Trick-or-Vote. CoPIRG volunteers will be reminding students to vote on campus, as well as going door-to-door in costumes in areas where many students live, reminding people to vote and collecting pledges to do so.