Illustration by Easton Self
NYU is such a politically-active campus that you’d be hard-pressed to find a student who has actively declined to take part in the political process (contrary to what Fox News’ Jesse Watters might have you believe). But they do exist, if you look hard enough.
Students eligible to vote who chose not to fulfill their civic duty generally attributed their decision to lack of information about the candidates and lack of time to fill out the necessary paperwork.
The university attempted to facilitate voter participation by making registration forms available at the Kimmel Center and Silver throughout October, but some students still had difficulty registering by the Oct. 14 New York deadline.
CAS Junior Class President Sana Husain said that Student Council and NYU Votes co-sponsored a subscription for NYU students to sign up for TurboVotes to make it easier for students to arrange for absentee ballots.
“A big complaint was [that] it’s hard for out-of-state kids to vote and make it accessible for them, so NYU votes kind of made that happen,” she said. “It’s gonna be kind of hard to find non-voters at NYU.”
Husain’s evaluation seems accurate. Of 25 eligible voters randomly interviewed at Bobst, only one said that he had not registered to vote. Tandon freshman Robert Kim said that politics simply did not appeal to him — and that he didn’t have enough time to dedicate to the issues.
Lack of free time was also a deterrent for CAS junior Omokhefue Sado, who said that she had registered to vote in her home state of Illinois but had never gotten around to filling out her absentee ballot.
“I’m actually really upset because all my friends are voting,” she said. “They were supposed to remind me to send in my absentee ballot, but they never did.”
One demographic that is surprisingly underrepresented among non-voters is former Bernie Sanders supporters. Although there is no definitive way to know what percentage of students who voted for Sanders in the primary went on to vote for Clinton in the general election, there has not been a large movement among Sanders supporters on campus to write in his name or to abstain from voting.
Gallatin sophomore Matt Salerno, a former Sanders supporter, said that he had initially intended not to vote in the general election after Sanders lost the primary but changed his mind once he reviewed the other presidential candidates and their policies.
“I’ve come to terms with reality and decided to vote,” he said. “I really don’t want Trump to win.”
Despite her nonparticipation, Sado echoed this sentiment.
“I’m gonna feel really dumb if Trump wins,” Sado said. “You never know who could be that one person to push Hillary over the edge.”
One has to wonder how these voters are feeling right now.
A version of this article appeared in the WSN 2016 Election Issue. Email Abigail Weinberg at [email protected]