ASU Democrats race to register, lock in millennial voters for 2016 election

Kaylan Fodor (right) talks to an ASU student about voting on the Tempe campus Friday, Sept. 23. (Photo by Brian Fore/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – Kaylan Fodor stood in the hot sun outside of the Arizona State University Memorial Union. Despite her efforts to stop them, students rushed past her.

They were disinterested in her goal of helping the Democratic Party register 10,000 voters by Oct. 10.

Millennials, she said, “will scream until they’re blue in the face on Facebook.” But many won’t vote. They won’t even register to vote.

“I do think this is going to be a critical election for millennials to get out and vote because they are expressing their opinions all over social media, but it doesn’t mean anything unless they get out and put it on paper,” said Fodor, 21, an ASU student and member of the ASU Young Democrats.

Registering eligible Millennial voters can be frustrating, even at ASU, which has more than 70,000 full-immersion students and a large pool of eligible voters. Millennials are disenchanted with both parties this election season, and although they trend Democratic the party is having difficulty locking in their votes.

According to the Arizona Secretary of State website, the roster of registered Democrats has grown from just under 1 million in January 2015 to 1,019,050 today.

Republicans continue to outnumber Democrats and register new voters in Arizona. In January 2015, there were 1,113,991 registered Republicans; today there are 1,185,023 registered Republicans, the secretary of state website reports.

The total of registered independent voters has decreased. In January 2015 there were 1,167,083 such voters, the secretary of state website says. Today there are 1,164,373 registered “others.”

The ASU Young Democrats, with about 80 members, has weekly meetings where they “engage” students in political discussions and create plans for recruitment efforts, Austin Marshall, the club’s president, said in a recent phone interview.

-Cronkite News video by Brian Fore

Marshall could not provide the number of voters the group has registered before the publication deadline, but he said in a text message he was pleased with the numbers, but the group still has a lot of “hard work” before the Oct. 10 registration deadline.

To register voters, the club sets up tables on campus and launched an “aggressive” social media presence to draw members in, Marshall said. The group focuses on recruiting minority voters. Members also man phone banks for the party.

“The Latino vote is paramount,” Marshall said. “We want to make sure as many Latino students raise their voice as possible and have a say in the way our country is going”

“People recognize the gravity of this election, they recognize the consequences for what a Trump presidency would mean for students and the atrocious things he proposed for Latino community,” Marshall said.

“Making sure students are engaged is our ultimate goal,” Marshall said. “Making sure the student voice is heard whether it’s Democrat or Republican.”

Fodor, the ASU student Democrat who recruits voters on campus, said she was driven into her political activism after seeing her mother battle unequal pay and gender discrimination as a teacher in a private school in Arizona.

“I can’t fathom how we live in the 21st century in a country that claims to be the greatest on Earth but still have this happening on a day-to-day basis,” Fodor said.

Fodor said her interest in politics revolves around health-care inequality, employment and women’s rights.

She said she wants to help others who have “stunted” opportunities to reach their full potential.