Don’t discount the power of student voters.
Just ask the people of Ann Arbor, Michigan, which saw how political activism at the University of Michigan shaped the outcomes of its 1972 election as detailed in a new FairVote report and corresponding op-ed for Bridge Michigan by FairVote intern Ben Ratner.
Fresh off the 1971 passage of the 26th Amendment, which lowered the voting age to 18, students sprang to action, registering to vote in swarms while forming their own third-party to represent the progressive ideas left out of major party platforms.
The following 1972 elections, the student-created Human Rights Party won two seats on the city council, shifting the balance of power to pass first-in-the-nation policies and give students voice in city politics.
What does this mean for 2018?
As Ratner writes,
“The story of Ann Arbor and the Human Rights Party makes one thing clear: real change to our politics is possible when college students vote.”
Particularly in Michigan - a battleground state that favored Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election by just .3 percentage points - turnout on college campuses “could be the deciding factor” to key electoral reforms on the ballot like independent redistricting and automatic voter registration, according to Ratner.
Of course, the Wolverines aren’t the only students who have led the way for election reform - evidenced by the more than 50 colleges that have adopted ranked choice voting to elect their student leaders.
The upcoming midterm elections offer a perfect opportunity to remind the nation that student voices and views matter. All it takes is your votes.