Local organizations work to boost voter numbers in low-turnout groups | Pittsburgh City Paper

Local organizations work to boost voter numbers in low-turnout groups

Less than a month out from a high-stakes election night, local organizations have committed to boosting voter participation among college students and low-income people, two demographics that, advocates say, tend to vote in lower frequencies.

Community College of Allegheny County today announced its participation in the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, intended to boost voter engagement among college students. CCAC President Quintin Bullock joins more than 450 college presidents and chancellors who have committed to full student participation in the upcoming election.

“By signing the pledge, CCAC has committed to ensuring all eligible students are able to register to vote and cast informed ballots in the general election and beyond,” says a press release. “Further, the college commits to fostering a campus culture that supports nonpartisan student civic learning, political engagement, and student voter participation.”

College students have historically voted at the lowest levels of any group in the country, according to a press release from ALL IN. Despite this, student turnout in the 2020 election reached historic levels, almost meeting the national average for all voters, according to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement. Advocates hope student turnout in November’s election will top that.

College students are not the only group drawing the attention of local voting advocates. This weekend, several Pittsburgh social justice and faith organizations will join the Poor Peoples Campaign’s national get-out-the-vote effort to encourage voting by poor and low-income people and other low-propensity voters.

At 2 p.m. on Sat., Oct. 15, the Thomas Merton Center, Black Political Empowerment Project, Homewood AME Zion Church, and Coalition Against Death by Incarceration plan to rally at the intersection of Center Avenue and Crawford Street, known as Freedom Corner. The theme, according to a joint press release, will be, “If we ever needed to vote for democracy and justice, we sure do need to vote now!” 

At Saturday’s rally, “Impacted testifiers will draw on their experiences organizing against the interlocking evils of poverty, racism, ecological devastation and denial of healthcare, the war economy, and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism — and emphasize that this election is a crucial moment in that fight,” according to the release.

Following the rally, there will be a march down Center Avenue that will wind up back at Freedom Corner, according to organizers.

The press release says that more than 20 million poor and low-income people didn’t vote in the last presidential election, while many competitive races down the ballot were won by as few as 400 votes.

Eligible individuals are able to register to vote until Oct. 24, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State.