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How to Encourage Millennials to Vote

Zaakir Tameez

Over the summer, Governor Terry McAuliffe signed an Executive Directive setting up a Millennial Civic Engagement Task Force. Its goal: get millennials more engaged throughout the Commonwealth. The Task Force held a summit last Friday in Richmond, and WMRA’s Marguerite Gallorini talked to one of the participants.

Zaakir Tameez is one of two students from UVa to be part of the Governor’s Task Force, which is composed of all public colleges and universities in Virginia and one private college. Forty  students showed up on Friday's Summit and met with the governor. One theme: better information about what’s happening close to home.

ZAAKIR TAMEEZ: A lot of students feel like they don't really know what's going on or that they don't really understand what matters - especially in the national news cycles: they always talk about national elections, but so much is happening in Virginia. And a lot of students feel like they're not hearing that.

Throughout November, the Task Force will continue working on these ideas - such as setting up a list of best practices that universities can take to ensure civic engagement. They will then present a set of recommendations to the Governor in December.

TAMEEZ: Another major theme that came up was the institutional challenges to voting. For example, a lot of schools' students don't have cars, and the polling locations are very far so they're unable to walk there. As a result, they don't vote, so that's part of the problem.

UVa's Student Council, where Tameez is also active, has managed to make  student access to polling stations easier for this year’s  election.

TAMEEZ: So for example the University of Virginia, through the work of Student Council advocating for this in previous years is using the safe ride vans that UVa use at night for student safety and having those bring students to the polls in the daytime.  Because again, there is for example the Northline, which is a bus service for UVa, but it's going to be completely crowded and as a result many students can't get on the bus.  So the University expands public transportation options to the polling location to adjust for student traffic on Election Day. It will be done this election at UVa because Student Council demanded it.

Tameez hopes that success will provide an example for students around the state.

Marguerite Gallorini was a feelance journalist for WMRA from 2015 -2018.