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Liberal Activists Hope To Make College Move-In Week An Opportunity To Register New Voters

Lucy Perkins
90.5 WESA
Brooke Taylor with NextGen America is focused on registering students to vote at the University of Pittsburgh.

It’s move-in week at the University of Pittsburgh, and while college students settle into their dorm rooms, NextGen Pennsylvania wants to register them to vote.

“College students have a unique opportunity to vote in Pennsylvania since they will be residents 30 days prior to the election,” said Brooke Taylor, of NextGen America. “We want to get them registered here especially in a state where their vote's going matter a lot more than maybe if they’re coming [from] out of state.”

NextGen America is funded by Tom Steyer, a Democratic billionaire who wants to see President Trump impeached.

The organization has registered young voters across Pennsylvania all year.

Taylor is focused on Pitt’s campus, where the purportedly biggest issues for students are affordable education and universal health care.

Maxwell Vance, a freshman majoring in chemical engineering, was one student concerned about the cost of higher education.

“I feel like community college should be cheaper or a more accessible option to people,” he said. Vance registered as a Democrat when he was walking by the NextGen tent on campus.

NextGen is at college campuses across Pennsylvania. The group has registered roughly 15,000 people so far this year, and has plans to quickly increase that number now that college students are back on campus. NextGen hopes to register 1,000 new voters a day in Pennsylvania this week alone.

But on Tuesday afternoon, the group on Pitt’s campus had only registered 40 students.

Brooke Taylor said even though that number was well below their goal, those new voters could be really important, especially in a state like Pennsylvania where candidates have won special elections with narrow victories.

“The margin that people win by here could be the margin that we register here on campus,” said Taylor. “It doesn’t matter if it’s one more voter. We don’t know what the margins are going to be from the redistricting, so we don’t want to play it safe.”

According to the most recent data from the Pennsylvania Department of State, voter registration for people under 34 now outnumbers registration of people over 64.


Of course, the big question is whether or not young people actually show up in November.


Steyer announced last week that he will invest $10 million in voter mobilization efforts this fall.