Rock the Vote hosts lecture and discussion encouraging young voters to vote
In 2000, Carolyn Dewitt sat in her dorm room right before that year’s presidential election. Dewitt just turned 18, missing the voter registration deadline, but spoke to her roommates about voting. She thought voting did not matter and nothing will change when she votes in the future.
Today, her mindset is different.
The Rock the Vote non-partisan lecture and discussion took place on Oct. 27 via WebEx. Guest speaker Carolyn Dewitt, the executive director of Rock the Vote, spoke to an audience of 26 students and faculty members. Rock the Vote is a non-partisan organization focused on educating young people about voting, according to the event's webpage.
Dewitt, along with CMU president Bob Davies, Kyle Scherr, Andrew Mcnaught, Alexander Ball, Misheaila Neil, and Spencer Robinson who were other panelists in the discussion encouraged the audience to exercise their right to vote.
"Let's make a plan to vote and exercise that right," Davies said.
Dewitt said young people comprise nearly 40 percent of the electorate, but every new generation of voters are told their vote will not make a difference. This is not a generational problem, but a societal issue, she said.
“We the people are losing power in our democracy with every passing election,” Dewitt said.
Dewitt said a lot of students she talks to say they are insecure about their understanding of voting and they don’t feel like they have enough information to do so. Some said they felt irresponsible voting. To Dewitt, this is a civic educational problem.
When someone from the audience asked, “What happens when young voters are encouraged and informed,” Dewitt responded, “They show up to the polls”.
Dewitt also said how the state of democracy is an overwhelming concern, with many obstacles and roadblocks making it harder for people, or even stopping some, from voting.
“There is a better chance of someone getting struck by lightning than someone committing voter fraud,” Dewitt said. “But we talk about it like it is rampant and a big deal. We create laws based on voter fraud and that makes it harder for people to vote.”
Dewitt, along with the other members of Rock the Vote, are doing their best to create change by educating and encouraging voters by reaching out to those voters, posting on social media, hosting discussions, and giving lectures.
“It does not get fixed if we do not do anything. Base your vote on who pairs up with your values the most and then hold them accountable when they are in office,” Dewitt said. “We need to make sure we elect leaders who are going to implement the change you want to see and who honor the integrity of our democracy.”