UVM should engage with all students who vote

Harry Van Dyke, Opinion Columnist

Student organizations did nothing to help out-of-state UVM students register in their home states for the 2021 municipal elections.

UVM Democrats made efforts on their Instagram to educate people on how to vote by mail for the 2020 general election, but no such efforts were made for the municipal elections. 

Nonpartisan groups, such as UVM Votes, have also ignored the municipal elections. Their last publicly announced general meeting was on March 23, 2021, according to the @uvmvotes Instagram.

Vermont held its municipal elections March 1 on Town Meeting day, but most other states held theirs on Nov. 2.  

I did not see anything on campus to suggest that other states were voting.

This is a problem because of the large number of out-of-state students who attend UVM. 

About 84% UVM students are out of state, according to UVM Office of Institutional Research figures. While students spend much of the year in Burlington, they can still be registered to vote in their home state.

This year’s first-year class is the largest in school history, according to an Oct. 14 UVM Today article. 

Out-of-state first-year students haven’t experienced a Vermont election, so it’s a guarantee that there are out-of-state first-years not registered in Vermont.

Municipal elections are immensely important, especially in 2021. Issues such as banning Critical Race Theory in schools were on some ballots, according to a July 12 FiveThirtyEight article.

Navigating the absentee voting process is difficult. Figuring out where to download the application form and who to mail it to can present challenges. Having different rules and procedures for each state compounds the issue.

These difficulties can be enough to dissuade someone who is on the fence from voting.

Sometimes, a little push is all it takes to help these people vote, but no one on campus provided that this fall. 

Something as simple as a table in the Davis Center to give students info on how to vote can help.

In 2023, student organizations should put more effort into making sure all students have the resources to vote, not just those registered in Vermont.