Nearly a dozen Brookdale political science students joined associate professor Jonathan Moschberger, instructor Fred Hertrich and Rutgers University program manager Joe Walsh at the Freehold campus on Nov. 11 in an effort to “get out the vote” for 2016.
Flanked by life-sized cutouts of presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the students set up displays in the Freehold campus lobby detailing the platforms and political histories of each candidate currently vying for the White House.
From front-runners like Trump, Clinton and Bernie Sanders to lesser known hopefuls from independent third parties, the displays gave passers-by a crash course on all the key players in next year’s presidential election.
The political science students – who spent hours researching and creating the displays – also handed out voter registration forms to their Brookdale cohorts, encouraging them to get informed and get involved in the political process.
“The truth is that many young voters today are simply unaware,” said second-year political science student Marco Palladino. “But I think there are going to be consequences to something like that, especially when we have one of the lowest voter turnouts in our age group. And if young voters aren’t going to get educated in college, then where will they get educated?”
Those sentiments were echoed by Moschberger, who said there are troubling signs of voter apathy, and voter ignorance, both in New Jersey and across the country.
“This is a little more than a week out from last Tuesday’s election, and, according to one poll, 75 percent of New Jersey residents weren’t even aware that there was an election,” he said. “It’s troubling. Every year there is an election in New Jersey. The fact that people didn’t know about it is a concern.”
For young Americans, voting is more than just a civic duty, Moschberger added. It is also the most effective way to make their voices heard.
“They need to be aware of what is going on and they need to advocate for issues of concern to them,” he said. “Whether it is the affordability of college education and the debt they will have to bear after graduation, or their ability to get jobs after graduation. These are serious issues, and in order to have an impact they have to participate. We need to see them more engaged and active in this process.”
For Palladino, those issues also include environmental advocacy – including the dangers posed by fracking, sea level rise and the disappearance of bee colonies – and the influx of private money in politics.
“Right now, if you have more money, you are pretty much going to win,” Palladino said, adding that “outsider candidates” like Sanders have recently begun to champion for campaign finance reform. “I don’t know if he is going to be elected, but, historically, those outsider candidates can come in and bring issues like that to the table. I think that’s really important.”
The students also handed out more generic information on the electoral process and the importance of active citizenship. One handout detailed the results of a recent federally funded study, which found that young Americans who are educated in civics or political science are significantly more likely to vote, volunteer and participate in the political process.
To learn more about Brookdale’s political science programs, click here.
Check out more photos of the Presidential Info Session here.