Led by its president and co-founder, Miles Palminteri ’23 (International Relations), the SUNY New Paltz chapter of Democracy Matters is hosting regular events and meetings focused on getting the word out about the 2022 midterm elections.
The nonpartisan organization has been steadily ramping up its on-campus activities in 2022 after a temporary dormancy caused by COVID-19.
“We just wanted to restart the campus chapter because this area is important for young voters because besides the fact that we’re a college town, this area is swing district in many respects,” said Palminteri. “The youth voting power at New Paltz tends to hold a lot of weight.”
As a chapter of a national student organization, Democracy Matters seeks to encourage youth participation in local, state and national elections.
Palminteri recognizes a passion for politics both on campus and among his generation.
“With social media and the power of how quickly information and communications travels, it’s almost impossible not to know what’s going on in politics every single second of the day,” he said. “I think that has a big effect on our generation.”
This insight is supported by the College’s growing reputation for student political engagement. New Paltz had the highest voter turnout among all SUNY institutions in the 2020 presidential election, with roughly 70% of enrolled students casting a ballot according to the ALL IN Democracy Challenge.
“I do hope that the turnout is higher for the midterms, because we’re always looking for more votes,” said Palminteri. “Even the smallest difference in votes makes the biggest impact.”
The Center for Student Engagement plays a key role, helping support student advocacy and involvement in organizations that engage with political subjects. This includes hosting an on-campus polling location on Election Day for resident students and other members of the New Paltz community, as well as providing other resources like registration information and transportation to early voting locations.
“These resources are vital for students because they should have a right to make decisions for their future leaders just like everyone else,” said Leslie Guttierez-Saldana, community & civic engagement coordinator.
About Democracy Matters
Democracy Matters is a national college student organization that empowers students with a voice in politics, skills for life-long civic engagement, and the passion to create a just, fair, and inclusive democracy. Its nonpartisan chapters inspire and mobilize students to take action. Students fight to expand voting rights, defeat the power of big money in politics, and uplift social justice activism.