By Mike Linn
A national grassroots group has infiltrated two area colleges in an effort to get young voters to the polls for the November presidential election.
A local organizer for the New Voters Project said she’d like to see at least 600 students at Clovis Community College and 900 at Eastern New Mexico University register.
“We are approaching 600 registrations now,” Ivy Stoner said. “The New Voters Project recognizes that politicians are talking about Social Security, Medicare, prescription drugs. Those are all important issues, (but) they’re not relevant to 18 to 24 year olds.”
Stoner said that makes sense, because during the last presidential election only 36 percent of the youngest age group of voter participated compared with 70 percent of voters at least 60 years of age.
In New Mexico, only 24 percent of 177,000 potential young voters took part in the last general election, one of the poorest turnouts nationwide, Stoner said. This year, Stoner said she hopes to get 40 percent of 18 to 24 year olds from Eastern and CCC to the polls.
Eastern is having voter registration in the Campus Union Building from 11 a.m. to noon today.
The last day to register to vote in Roosevelt County is Oct. 5. As of Monday, 10,305 were registered to vote in Roosevelt County, a change of roughly 400 voters since May 1.
Janet Cox, the county’s chief deputy clerk, said that 419 new voters have registered in the county during that time, but that figures doesn’t include about 200 registrations not entered into the system.
“I would say that the university has brought in two-thirds of those, just guessing,” Cox said. “There have been big drives there, but we’ve had big drives in other places.”
The primaries might have provided a slight boost as well, with Republican primary for the Ninth Judicial District Attorney, won by ENMU graduate Matt Chandler.
“The DA’s race brought in a lot,” Cox said. “We have had primaries with lots of candidates running and a low turnout and one really good race and a lot of turnout. You never know how it’s going to go.”
PNT Managing Editor Kevin Wilson contributed to this report.