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MTV teams with Florida college students to get out the vote

By Deirdra Puncheon, Axios Miami | October 21, 2022

College students across South Florida are expanding voting access on their campuses ahead of the midterm elections, thanks in part to reality show hitmaker MTV.

Why it matters: 90% of U.S. college campuses had no early voting options in 2020, and 74% of campuses didn't didn't have any in-person voting options on Election Day either, according to research shared with Axios from MTV and Duke University data science master's students.

  • Lack of access is more pronounced at two-year community colleges than four-year institutions, the study found.

  • Predominantly white colleges had more on-campus polling places than predominantly non-white ones from 2012-2020.

Flashback: MTV has been encouraging young people to get involved in elections ever since the 1990s, after members of Miami's own 2 Live Crew were arrested for a performance that was deemed lewd and obscene.

  • About 12 million people registered to vote through a subsequent campaign to "Rock the Vote."

  • In 2020, the nonpartisan MTV Campus Challenge helped secure 24 voting options on college campuses, 19 of which remain open.

What's happening: This year, students at Emory University, Central Michigan University and Eastern Arizona College helped land new early-voting sites on their campuses through MTV's initiative with nonprofit Fair Elections Center.

  • In South Florida, Miami-Dade College students worked this year to ensure that an early voting site remained on campus.

  • Students at Florida Atlantic University have been promoting a new voting site at the school's Jupiter campus.

The intrigue: FAU's Boca Raton campus — which serves about 20,000 students — had been an early voting site in 2020, but this year, early voting was moved to the Jupiter campus about 40 miles north, which serves roughly 1,500 students.

  • The Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections office didn't respond to Axios' request for comment about why that change was made, but a student newspaper reported it was due to underperforming results at the Boca campus, compared with Jupiter and Palm Beach Gardens during the 2020 elections.

  • One report found that in 2020, of 27,753 FAU students eligible to vote, 83.4% registered and 71.1% voted on Election Day.

Of note: Voting will take place on both of the university's campuses for the general election.

What they're saying: "I've noticed that a lot of the [Jupiter] students don't necessarily drive, and so this gives them an opportunity to go and vote," 20-year-old Katie Kelly, an FAU Jupiter student participating in the MTV Campus Challenge, told Axios.

  • Kelly said she and other campus organizers used QR codes to help students register to vote. She said they also got 3,500 already-registered students to pledge to vote during "Donut forget to vote" and K-pop themed events.

Janeth Zaldivar, a 19-year-old political science student at Miami-Dade College, helped promote early voting on the Kendall campus as her group organized events like pizza giveaways and a carnival.

  • "Coming out of the pandemic, it's been sort of difficult to bring students to campus, as they have the option of online classes," she said.

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