Line of voters election night

Voters wait outside the UCF CFE Arena polling location to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 6. A recent report by NextGen America found that UCF had a higher youth voter turnout than any other major Florida university.

A new campaign by Southern Students Vote is petitioning the Florida Legislature to make university IDs comply with voter ID laws. This campaign is in an effort to increase voter participation in young people.

Southern Students Vote is a campaign focused on giving students in the southern United States the ability to vote using their student IDs. The campaign is part of the Andrew Goodman Foundation — a foundation focused on helping young people engage in their democracy. 

During the midterm elections in November 2018, UCF had an early voting and Election Day voting location for the first time since U.S. District Judge Mark Walker reversed a 2014 ban of on-campus voting locations. According to NextGen America — a progressive political action committee focused on environmental issues — UCF had the highest voter turnout out of all other major Florida universities. 

Senior political science major Michael Desmond is one of the student ambassadors for Southern Students Vote at UCF. Desmond said he thinks making student IDs compatible with voter ID laws will increase convenience when it comes to voting and gives students a chance to have a valid ID even if they do not drive.

“We’re already handing them out to every student at our university,” Desmond said. “It’s just practical to make it so that every student can use it to go vote.”

According to the Florida Division of Elections, student IDs can be used in elections; however, all forms of eligible IDs must have picture identification as well as a signature. The UCF ID does not include a signature.

Nelson Perez, retail supervisor for UCF Card Services said that Card Services used to include student signatures on ID cards, but they were removed to promote efficiency. Perez said it is estimated that removing the signature portion saved between two and three minutes from the production of a single ID.

This campaign even caught the attention of the UCF Student Government Association. College of Sciences senator Anthony Lopez is introducing a resolution in the SGA Senate in favor of making student IDs eligible as voter IDs. He said he thinks that the involvement of student body leadership is essential in getting the attention of the legislature. 

“Pressure from universities is probably one of the best ways to get this passed simply because it affects college students the most,” Lopez said.

Political science professor Philip Pollock said that voter ID laws are not a big deterrent with young people voting. 

“Most of the impediments for young people are psychological,” Pollock said “[Young people are] not as engaged in politics as older generations, not as embedded in the community as older generations are.”

Pollock also said that turnout among younger people is not as low as perceived.

"Since 2000, the voting rates among the young cohorts, that is 18 to 29-year-olds has gone up dramatically," Pollock said. "So the overall turnout has gone up [and] turnout among the youngest cohort has gone up the most."

Southern Students Vote is currently petitioning the Florida Legislature on change.org

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