Carpool encourages WU students to vote early
WashU For Bernie volunteers are driving Washington University students of all political stripes to the polls so they can vote in the Missouri primary.
Although both the Republican and Democratic primaries are on March 15, which falls during this year’s spring break, early voting has begun. WashU For Bernie has organized a group of drivers to bring students from the South 40 to the St. Louis Election Authority so they can cast their ballots before leaving for spring break.
Many students are registered to vote in their home states, but WashU For Bernie co-president and sophomore Deborah Rookey suggested that filling out absentee ballots can be difficult for college students, and it may be easier for students to vote here in Missouri.
“Voting in Missouri…is the easiest thing for Wash. U. students. Because we’re here, that makes it a lot easier,” Rookey said. “Voting absentee for me—it’s a huge problem. But voting in Missouri, it’s a lot more direct access.”
Freshman Amal Haque, who participated in Saturday’s carpool, said the experience was a positive one.
“This was my first time voting, and I was really excited to get involved in politics; I’m a really strong believer in the idea that every vote matters,” Haque said. “I think it was awesome that students are working together to make sure everyone’s voice is heard. And I really commend the WashU For Bernie group for helping kids exercise their civic duty.”
Sophomore Jojo Yee, who voted in the primary on Saturday, decided to register in Missouri for a different reason.
“I’m from California, so I registered here because I thought my vote would make more of a difference in Missouri,” Yee said.
Although the event organizers are members of WashU For Bernie, the main goal is to get students to participate in the election rather than to encourage students to vote for Bernie Sanders, Rookey noted.
“We’re not asking people who they’re voting for when they get in the car; we’re just driving them there. We don’t even care whether they vote in the Democratic or Republican primary,” Rookey said.
Still, Rookey feels that the group is supporting Sanders by leading the charge for young voter turnout, as the senator has advocated for college-aged voters to show up at the polls.
“We’re helping [Bernie Sanders’] issues; we’re getting young people to vote—we’re getting young people’s voice,” Rookey said. “You know, one of [Sanders’] main efforts is he wants for people to be automatically registered to vote when they turn 18—that’s one of the big things he’s talking about in his speeches; he’s drafting legislation. So, this is his issue.”
The carpool service began on Saturday and will continue this Tuesday in the afternoon and early evening. In order to vote in the primary, students must be registered in Missouri and bring a valid photo ID with them to the election authority.