Students shuttle to early voting

Lily Cummings

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Voters in Louisiana participated in early voting this week ahead of the Nov. 16 gubernatorial election, including college students across the state, who put the party in politics.

The Millennial Voter Engagement Initiative, also known as MoVE, organized shuttles for students to take from their campuses to the polls on Saturday, Nov. 9. The shuttles came in New Orleans fashion, as party buses.

Katelyn McGruder, history senior, was one of the students who utilized the free transportation to City Hall to go vote because she cannot make it to the polls on election day.

“Millennials are just going to keep getting older, and we need to make decisions for us as we get older,” McGruder said, “If we don’t come then older people will make all the wrong decisions.”

Millennial Voter Engagement Initiative is a program that began in New Orleans, spearheaded by students from Tulane and LSU, with the goal of ensuring young adults in Louisiana vote.

Noa Elliott is a leader of Millennial Voter Engagement Initiative, and assisted with the organization of Saturday’s transportation.

“A few years ago we did some analysis and realized that if young people showed up in the numbers that there are in New Orleans,” Elliott said, “They could really change the result of elections.”

Around 30 percent of the New Orleans population Elliott said is young adults, but they do not turn out at a high rate to vote especially in state and local elections.

“The platform of MoVE started with getting people to the polls and out to vote,” Elliott said, “A lot of students don’t drive, especially in New Orleans.”

The bus provided access to students who don’t drive, and helped the organization appeal to the younger audience. Shuttles in New Orleans took students from Dillard, Loyola, Tulane and Xavier to City Hall, and there were shuttles in Baton Rouge for LSU and Southern University students.

“The party bus’s goal was to get younger voters to see voting as exciting,” McGruder said.

Jason Dillion, driver for Nene’s Party Buses, said it’s a way he likes to show young adults the importance of voting and that it’s cool.

“Every year we try and get youngsters to come out and vote,” Dillion said, “It has a lot to do with our city, our environment and our culture.”

Besides getting voters to the polls, Elliott said Millennial Voter Engagement Initiative also focuses on educating voters through panels they host featuring politicians, activists and elected officials.

Early voting ended on Saturday with 489,649 early voters across the state, according to data from the Louisiana Secretary of State. The Millennial Voter Engagement Initiative also plans on increasing the number of young voters on election day by providing the shuttle service again on Nov. 16.

“Every drop of water in the bucket counts, and maybe we didn’t have the whole college campus show out, but every vote counts,” McGruder said.

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