College students voted in unusually large numbers, boosting the Democrats narrow 2022 midterm victories, according to NPR, the nonprofit news service Stateline of the Pew Charitable Trusts, CIRCLE and several other non-partisan news organizations.
“Young voters made their voices heard during the midterms last week, turning out in relatively high numbers in an election that produced the first congressperson from Generation Z. But university students and voting rights advocates say voters on college campuses faced far too many difficulties trying to cast their ballots,” wrote Pews Stateline Reporter Matt Vasliogambros.
In Florida’s 10th Congressional District, Maxwell Alejandro Frost became the first member of Gen Z ever elected to Congress on Tuesday.
Two Hunter students were interviewed by this reporter about their participation in 2022 midterm elections: Bianca Domond and Stephanie Daneri. Taylor Smith, a Hunter NYPIRG coordinator, was also interviewed.
Domond, a psychology major, was not registered to vote, nor, she said, was she interested in politics. She is a full-time student who works part time as a pharmacy tech at a Walgreens on Long Island. Interviewed on the second floor in the West Building, and dressed in blue scrubs and carrying a school bag, Domond said her mother makes politics seem so dramatic.
“I can listen and hear, but I’m not engaging to the point of I have feedback,” she said. Domond said she did not know anyone her age who votes, only elders like her mother and her aunt. Her family is from Haiti. “They care more, they are more informed,” she said.
Domond said she heard and saw members of student clubs on the third floor of the West Building chanting about student voting registration but she didn’t pay much attention to them. Domond described the voter registration efforts on this campus with a fishing metaphor. “It’s like fishing, when you put the hook in and put the bait, but it’s up to me to want what’s on the hook.”
She said she planned to learn more about politics before she starts voting. “I want to broaden my horizons about it, so I can say, okay, I’m taking this stand and that stand,” she said.
Hunter has a resource section for students on its website, Voter Registration And Advocacy, for student voter registration and election information. There is even information for students about how to become a poll worker.
Daneri, 18, a nursing major and a full time student, immigrated to the United States from Dominican Republic in 2021. In an interview on the third-floor skybridge walkway connecting the North and West buildings, Daneri sat on a metal radiator with her laptop out as nearby members of student clubs solicited students about registering to vote.
She was not registered to vote, nor particularly informed about the midterm elections, she said. “There are always people here (referring to the third floor area of the West Building) asking, ‘Are you registered to vote?,'” said Daneri. [Reporter’s Note: Midterm Elections]
Daneri’s said she was more focused on improving her English than focusing on voting. Even though Daneri herself does not vote, she knows people who do. “Most of the time they are telling me, ‘Come and register to vote.’” Even with the support of others in her life, she said she felt unprepared to vote due to her still learning about the process of voting and this country.
NYPIRG Coordinator Taylor Smith
Smith went to college in South Carolina, a very red state. She said the political figures in her hometown were stagnated and she wanted to see that change. She first registered to vote when she was 18, and was still in high school. The first election she ever voted in was the 2016 presidential election.
Smith said when she was a student at Elon University, there weren’t any organizations similar to NYPIRG on her campus. Smith said she tells Hunter students with whom she works how lucky they are to have programs that are non-partisan. “I tell my students all the time, we do not have those kinds of things in the South,” she said.
Hunter offers an array of clubs and organizations like NYPIRG, Hunter Hillel, Office of Student Activities. Smith said programs like NYPRING are important for students. “I don’t know where else people would get information for these kinds of things, if not on their campus,” she said.
Smith also described the significance of the midterm election in an interview conducted in the the third-floor cafeteria in the West building. “Your local government often has a larger impact on your life than whoever is in the presidential office at the time,” Smith said. Voting has the power to invite a more representative government of the population in a given area, Smith insisted.
NYPIRG – New York Public Interest Research Group – is a statewide student-directed, non-partisan, not for profit political organization. It is one of the largest of the Public Interest Research Groups, which were inspired by Ralph Nader in the 1970s and works at the state level. NYPIRG works on a variety of socioeconomic issues such as college affordability, consumer protection, sustainable energy, government accountability, hunger & homelessness, public transportation in New York City, and voter rights.
Milan Dupuy can be reached at MILAN.DUPUY58@myhunter.cuny.edu