Voter apathy plagues youth electorate
3 years ago Sean Smith 1
Midterm elections statistically draw less voters to the voting booth than a presidential election. FairVote.org states that 42 percent of the eligible voting population turned out in 2010 compared to 59 percent in 2012’s election.
While presidential elections draw national attention and a popularity of voters, the votes that choose state representatives, governors and local city officials often have a more direct impact on the community.
“I feel that this election is closer knit to us and we can relate to it more,” Brooklyn Erwin, freshman nursing major, said. “Most people vote for the president, but that is for the U.S., whereas the governor is for your state and they can do more for you personally.”
This year’s election is no different, with the partisan control of the United States Senate potentially up for grabs. With a Clear Politics poll showing a 13 percent congressional approval rating, many political theorists believe a shift in power is congress is looming.
However, young people cast the least amount of votes in every election and this can affect an election’s results drastically.
FairVote.org reported only 20.9 percent of the eligible voters in the youth electorate (18-29 years old) voted in 2010’s midterm election. That represented 11 percent of all voters in that election.
The apathy young adults face often comes from college age students being uninformed on the election at hand.
Senior criminal justice major Derek Powell said he doesn’t vote unless he’s fully involved and fully informed in the election.
“Misinformation is what causes voter biases, so I don’t really take part unless I’m fully in it,” Powell said.
Junior kinesiology major Demetri King said he will not vote in this election since he is not familiar with the issues and candidates are on the ballet.
“If I plan to vote, I do want to get informed,” Kind said. “But definitely no. Not going to happen. I don’t know who is running. I don’t know what’s going on.”
While voter apathy affects poll turnout for young people, 77 percent of the youth that does vote has some level of college experience, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE). In fact, CIRCLE estimates that youth with college experience are more than twice as likely to vote than their peers who have not attended college.
Junior mass communications major Laura Toeniskoetter said she voting is important, even as a young adult.
“Yes, I do vote, because it is the foundation of our country,” Toeniskoetter said. “It is important because if you don’t vote, people you don’t like will take over. They can potentially have control of the House and Senate. If you don’t vote, you cannot complain.”
Accounting senior Shawn Kelly said voting drives the direction of the country.
“I will be voting, because voting allows you to be heard and it gives you direction for the future,” Kelly said. “Without any direction, we would be wandering aimlessly.”
Of the young people that turn out to vote, statistics show they have a liberal majority.
CIRCLE records the youth electorate supported Democratic House candidates at a margin of 57 percent over the 40 percent support for Republican candidates in 2010. Also, only 38 percent of youth supported Republican Senate candidates, while 56 percent supported democratic senate candidates.
Young people show higher approval of President Barack Obama’s job compared to the national average. Sixty percent of youth approval of the president’s time in office, while the national average shows only 45 percent.
However, all age groups agreed on the country’s most important issue at hand: the economy.
Regardless of political leaning or affiliation, the only way an election can sample the population accurately is for voters to turn out. The youth vote is the most under-represented age group in the electorate, and apathy hinders the youth vote from being accurately represented.