As part of their New Voters Project this semester, MaryPIRG has helped register more than 1,200 students to vote as of Oct. 16, including 559 students this past week during the organization's third major registration "blitz."
During these blitzes, or periods of increased registration efforts, the group tables around the campus for about three to four days. This semester, they had tables at some non-traditional places such as the chemistry building, Washington quad, the Art-Sociology building, and 251 North, said junior Sara Carter, a government and politics major and president of MaryPIRG.
Their registration efforts, which began Sept. 27, end Tuesday, which is the last day for Maryland residents to register to vote for the general election.
The group's original goal was to register 1,000 students that week and 2,000 by this point in the semester, said sophomore Julia Zhen, a supply chain management major and assistant coordinator of this campaign.
"We wanted to set our bar really high so it would force us to put in our effort as much as we could, even if we didn't reach the goal," Zhen said.
Despite falling short of their goal, Carter said the organization's team is still happy with their total and the progress of this initiative.
"One of the reasons that we were not hitting our goal is that a lot of students don't realize that if they moved and they didn't live in College Park, that they have to update their voter registration in order to vote in College Park," Carter said.
However, not all of the students that MaryPIRG includes in its registration numbers were registered to vote via MaryPIRG, said sophomore Amanda Stavinsky, a sociology major and the New Voters Project coordinator.
The New Voters Project is a collaboration with the TerpsVote coalition, which is run by the Student Government Association and encompasses other organizations including: MaryPIRG, Residence Hall Association, College Democrats, College Republicans, Terps for Hillary and Terps for Trump.
All of these organizations are encouraging students to vote, which Michael Hanmer, an associate professor and the director of Government and Politics Graduate Studies, said is going to play a "huge" role in this election, although he also noted that this age group historically does not have high voter turnout.
"Some of the issues that have come up are closer to home for young people, and Bernie Sanders really gets a lot of credit for sparking a lot of that discussion … particularly on the issue of college affordability," Hanmer said.
In addition, the level of support from youth voters for the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, has been surprising, Hanmer said.
"On policy issues other than the legalization of marijuana, there's just not a lot of connection between what I think what the majority of young people are interested in and what [Johnson's] stance is," he said.
Individuals underestimating the importance of their participation and its consequences, Hanmer said, can also influence low student turnout rates.
After this state's voter registration deadline on Tuesday, MaryPIRG will begin their "Get Out the Vote" campaign. This initiative will focus on mobilizing and informing students on how to get to the polls, said senior Andrew Richard, a sociology major and "Get Out the Vote" coordinator of this campaign.
"We've decided sort of as a society … for whatever reason voting is a thing you have to work to do … that really has an impact on students especially," Richard said. "It's a crazy election year and a lot of people are really unsatisfied … but I think that if you're unsatisfied [it's] even more reason to vote."