Ed's Blog

Youth vote surges in election

By Ed Mierzwinski
Consumer Program Director

In case you missed it, the Student PIRG New Voters Campaign has a release explaining that "the youth share of the electorate increased to 19 percent in 2012 over 18 percent in 2008." The PIRGs helped register over 100,000 new voters in this cycle. Excerpt from their release: Youth Share of Electorate Rises Campus Precincts Post Turnout Increase:

“ According to preliminary results provided by local elections officials, turnout at many student-dominated precincts at campuses targeted by the Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project this election cycle demonstrated significant increases in youth turnout over 2008.  [...] Despite the dire predictions of low youth turnout today, young people once again showed that when voter mobilization efforts pay attention to them, they show up on Election Day,” said Leigh-Anne Cole, Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project Director. 

Cole and a team of thousands of student leaders and full time organizers spearheaded an intensive voter mobilization drive on campus over the past several week to help register and urge students to the polls on Election Day.

Using scientifically-proven voter outreach and mobilization techniques such as peer-to-peer phonebanks and canvasses, text message outreach and classroom announcements, the campaign made more than 500,000 vote reminders in the days leading up to the election.  They also helped to register 100,000 young voters through a combination through an online-voting software application and pavement-pounding with registration forms attached to clipboards. 

“The best people to urge a young person to the poll is another young person,’ said Cole.  "Our campaign shows definitively that if you pay attention to young voters, they will pay attention to you."

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Washington, DC] According to exit polls issued by national media outlets, the youth share of the electorate increased to 19 percent in 2012 over 18 percent in 2008.

A rise in turnout on college campuses reflected this increase at the local level. According to preliminary results provided by local elections officials, turnout at many student-dominated precincts at campuses targeted by the Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project this election cycle demonstrated significant increases in youth turnout over 2008. For instance:

At Florida State University, Precinct 1507 showed a 29 percent increase
The University of Maryland STAMP voting center demonstrated a 48 percent increase over 2008
North Carolina State University’s Wake Precinct showed a 13 percent increase
Precinct 48 at the University of Texas, Dallas demonstrated a 46 percent increase
University of Massachusetts Amherst Precinct 3, for instance showed a 29 percent increase over 2008.

“Despite the dire predictions of low youth turnout today, young people once again showed that when voter mobilization efforts pay attention to them, they show up on Election Day,” said Leigh-Anne Cole, Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project Director.

Cole and a team of thousands of student leaders and full time organizers spearheaded an intensive voter mobilization drive on campus over the past several week to help register and urge students to the polls on Election Day.

Using scientifically-proven voter outreach and mobilization techniques such as peer-to-peer phonebanks and canvasses, text message outreach and classroom announcements, the campaign made more than 500,000 vote reminders in the days leading up to the election. They also helped to register 100,000 young voters through a combination through an online-voting software application and pavement-pounding with registration forms attached to clipboards.

“The best people to urge a young person to the poll is another young person,’ said Cole. "Our campaign shows definitively that if you pay attention to young voters, they will pay attention to you."
Ten members of the UC Berkeley chapter of CalPIRG rallied in front of Sather Gate Thursday against the construction of a controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.

At the rally, CalPIRG initiated a petition addressed to President Obama to halt the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, a project that would carry about 700,000 to 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada into the United States but that remains controversial due to environmental and energy-dependence concerns. CalPIRG hopes to collect 500 signatures within a two-day period.

“There are lots of issues with this pipeline being built,” said Allison Hughes, campaign manager for CalPIRG’s efforts to stop the construction. “If it spills, it will cost a lot to clean, and we would be investing in a resource that we don’t need, and we can use cleaner sources of energy that would be more beneficial to the environment.”

According to a statement by TransCanada Corporation, the energy corporation responsible for the management of the project, the pipeline would create jobs for about 9,000 Americans. However, CalSERVE Senator Nolan Pack believes that these jobs will not have a long-term impact on the economy.

“These jobs are not in the long term because the pipeline will be built and then it’s done,” Pack said. “No one has realized that even though this pipeline will create jobs for people, it is also taking land from farmers, and by taking land, you are taking the livelihood of many people.”

TransCanada said in the statement that it will implement a detailed emergency response plan if leakage occurs and will be held responsible for the cleanup of the land where the oil spills as well as compensation related to oil released from the pipeline.

Pack said that the building of this pipeline is a step backward and called for an increased focus on the usage and development of new energy resources. Last month, the ASUC Senate passed SB 10, a bill that directs the ASUC to divest from the fossil fuel industry.

“(SB 10) shows how we are trying to divest from old energy resources and use new energy resources,” Pack said. “The Keystone pipeline is deeply investing us in an energy source that is outdated, and we are trapping ourselves in this form of energy when there are so many other options.”

n recent weeks, on campuses all across America, students have been enrolling in university. Ah, what an experience — the camaraderie of college spirit, the titillating possibilities of higher learning! Then these eager innocents go to buy their textbooks, and — wham! — the dispiriting reality of corporate greed whacks them upside the head. Students, already beleaguered by skyrocketing tuition and fees, now face sticker shock when purchasing required texts. A congressional study finds that students today are averaging $900 per semester for books. A watchdog group called CALPIRG has issued a report called Ripoff 101, documenting that the giant publishers are raising prices of college texts at a rate three times higher than the prices of general books.
CALPIRG finds three main reasons for the inflated costs. One, the publishers issue new, higher-priced editions every three years or so, even though there’s little substantive change in the material. Second, at least half of the books are now sold “bundled” with unnecessary CD-ROMs and flashy workbooks that drastically bloat the price — even though two-thirds of college faculty say that they “rarely” or “never” use these add-ons. Third, publishers jack up the price simply because they can. Students are a captive market. Professors say, “Buy this book,” and there’s little choice but to pay the ripoff price. Also, like drug companies, publishers have been charging Americans more than they charge consumers overseas. On average, the exact same books cost 20 percent more here than in England, for example. In many cases, the overcharge is much greater — a calculus textbook, for example, sells for $132 here but only $62 in Britain. The good news is that students, some faculty, and a few lawmakers are fighting the gouging. To learn what steps you can take,

Today, college students spoke out to urge Senators to reject the pending student loan deal, which may come up for a vote in the Senate as early as this afternoon.

"Congress should be doing everything they can to make college more accessible. Yet S. 1334, the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act, would do the exact opposite, by making it harder and more expensive for America's future students to get the education they need," stated Christine Lindstrom, the Higher Education Program Director for U.S. PIRG.

On July 1, the subsidized Stafford student loan interest rate doubled, from 3.4 to 6.8 percent, causing more than seven million students to incur an additional $1,000 in loan costs. The pending Senate legislation is being sold as a reversal of the rate hike, but in fact it would pay for lower short term interest rates by jacking those rates up within two years, followed by even higher rates throughout the decade.

Lindstrom continued: "If this new agreement is signed into law, by the year 2018, an undergraduate who takes out the maximum in subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans will pay $4,700 more over the life of the loan than she would have last year – and $900 more than if the rate simply stayed at 6.8 percent."

Briana Mullen, a rising junior at the University of California, said she was horrified when her subsidized Stafford student loan rate doubled from 3.4 to 6.8 percent on July 1. "While the policy before the Senate will reverse the rate hike and keep my rates low, it pays for my low rate by jacking up the rates that my sixteen-year-old sister will pay, as well as the rates that my little twin brother and sister will pay. There's no difference between us in terms of potential, so there shouldn't be any difference in terms of cost."

Mullen's sixteen year old sister, Dakota Friend, also spoke: "I don’t understand why she gets more affordable loans than I do."

Dominic Campion, a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame, stated, "My eleven-year-old brother should not have to pay for my low rates when she gets to college. Federal policy should invest in all college students, not favor some at the expense of others."

"That the subsidized Stafford student loan rate doubled on July 1 is a big problem. But this attempted fix makes things worse in the long run. Thi

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