Back to School, Back to the Ballot Box

This fall, college move-in checklists include twin sheets, mini fridges, posters with thumb tacks -- and a voter registration form!

As students migrate to universities around the country, Rock the Vote has teamed up with Good Charlotte and Jason Mraz to register new and returning students for the critical midterm election on Nov. 2. This is important outreach for the Millennial generation, because about one-third of registered young voters have moved since the historic 2008 election, when youth engagement reached record levels. Nearly 13,000 young people turn 18 every day, introducing 9 million new potential young voters this cycle.

Where I work in Florida, housing departments at the University of Florida, Florida State University, University of Central Florida, and Florida A&M University will place a voter registration form and a letter from Rock the Vote on every desk in every dorm room prior to move-in. The letter, signed by Jason Mraz or Good Charlotte, reminds students to register and vote at their new address.

"Whether you're a freshman or an upper-classman, the next few months are sure to bring new friendships, challenges, and opportunities -- and probably a new address," the letter says. "If you've moved since you last registered to vote, then it's time to re-register. If you haven't registered before, then now is your chance."

Move-in is a major chance to engage young people all over the country. My fellow state coordinators in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and North Carolina will rock the residence halls of some of the nation's biggest and most active campuses, including Ohio State University, Temple University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and more.

For those students who want to take it a step further, we'll also be offering them the chance to register their friends by organizing their own events using Rock the Vote's new online event platform, LIVE.

We know that sustaining youth participation in elections is worth working for. When young people vote, our democracy is strengthened and our government is accountable for our future.

"Leaders are beginning to address the issues that matter to us," the move-in letter states. "This year, we've seen Congress tackle student loans, college affordability, predatory credit card companies, and other issues that effect college students directly."

It's encouraging that young people are finally seeing state and national governments address issues that we care about. We're making sure that our voices can continue to be heard by ensuring that we hold current voter registrations and can vote again in 2010.