Millennials: Will They Follow Through on their Promise to Vote?

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This year, the youth vote is one of the most highly discussed topics of the U.S. presidential election.  Will the Millennials at Bloomsburg University and across the country register to vote?  Will they follow through on November 4?

In the past, young voters have been the cause of disturbing statistics: one of the steadiest declines in United States politics is that of the percent of youth who turn out for elections. This is since the 26th Amendment was instated, which gives 18- to 20-year-olds the right to vote. 

Elaine McTaggart, a senior Communications Studies major at Bloomsburg University, believes that some young people don’t understand how important it is to cast a ballot. “College students don’t understand how important their decisions now will be in 10 years, so they don’t bother voting,” McTaggart said.

The 2008 election process has seen many changes so far, as voters have participated in a historical process leading to the first black president candidate to make it through the primaries.  Another change seen in this election is that polls are showing 62 percent of college students promising to vote this year, as compared with 50 percent four years ago for the last election according to a study undertaken by Harvard. 

This increase is impressive, but the question remains: are the youth voters ready to follow through on their promises, and truly “Rock the Vote,” as the popular MTV program promotes?

All over campus since last semester, students at Bloomsburg University have noticed this increased drive to vote amongst their fellow students.  Student representatives and volunteers for Obama, McCain, and Clinton appeared on campus handing out information on the various candidates, and encouraged students to vote. 

Chelsea Clinton spoke in the Union, drawing a crowd only restricted by the size of the room.  This semester, a day doesn’t go by without students on the Quad or outside the Scranton Commons stopping other students and asking, “Are you registered to vote in Columbia County?” or, “Are you a registered Democrat/Republican?” 

Greg Williams, a Secondary Education/Math major explained that the only way he sees the government evolving is to initiate change. “I registered to vote because I want to see changes made, and the only way to make change is to vote for change.”

This is a view shared by many students on campus; however, the disturbing issue is the number of students who refuse to register, or register just to get it over with.  Anthony Morales, a sophomore at Bloomsburg, said he registered to vote because he was asked when he went to get a photo ID, and he felt like he was put on the spot.

The majority of registered voters aged 18 to 29 say they are Democratic-leaning, while approximately a third align themselves with the Republican Party according to a study done by the Pew Research Center.  For all of the 2008 contests in various states where exit poll data is available, young voters made up approximately 14 percent of Democratic voters, up from a median of nine percent in the 2004 elections. 

Also according to Pew, Obama has won the majority of the 2008 votes in the primaries for this age group in all but three states.  This data is significant when one thinks that by 2015, this Millennial Generation will make up one-third of the electorate. 

If this isn’t an important reason to register to vote, and to invest time in learning all you can about the candidates, what is?

Issues that directly affect college students such as higher education tax relief for tuition, and increased, more accessible financial aid are ones that are being discussed during this election process.  Young voters must take responsibility for their own education and their own lives. 

The first step is registering to vote.  The true test is actually going to the polls on November 4th and placing a vote.  Studies show that only 70 percent of registered voters actually go to the polls on Election Day. However, the problem is that approximately only 45 percent of young people are registered to begin with. 

“I have every intention of voting on November 4th, and so do a lot of people, but things come up…It’s not convenient, it’s new and people don’t know how to do it,” Williams said, “The only way to know if college students really will vote, is to wait and see.”

Until Election Day, keep asking, “Are you registered to vote in this county?”  Keep asking, “Would you like to register to vote?” And maybe students will ask themselves, “Why shouldn’t I register?  Why shouldn’t I make a difference?”

Comments

comments

3 COMMENTS

  1. But what if we feel our voices would be better heard by not voting? I am one of those Millennials who likely will not follow through on my promise.
    If you asked me months ago, I surely would have told you that I would be voting this November. I like to believe I have been very active during this campaign. I have followed the news, attended debates, and was lucky enough to get some standing room space to see Chelsea Clinton last spring.
    Now it is a different story. I hear the word change tossed around a lot but I just don’t see it. My classmates summed it up best the other day when they said this race has become a “lesser of two evils” competition.
    I don’t want my voice to be devalued like that. I don’t support either candidate right now. I believe my view will be best represented this fall by not voting.
    I encourage all who are passionate about a candidate or an issue to vote this fall. But don’t assume that just because someone isn’t registered or will not be going out this November 4th that they are uninterested or misinformed.

  2. But the reality of it, my dear co-editor, is that one of these two kind of sucky candidates will be elected into office this November. I’m all for making a statement, but maybe this time actually choosing the lesser of two evils is more important for our country. Yea, this may devalue the integrity of our vote, but politics in general have been devalued and have become petty. (How many days in a row did we hear about lipstick on a pig?) It’s become the way of our system, and I think a decision not to vote not only indicates your lack of enthusiasm for a candidate (which is perfectly fine, I’m saying), BUT it also indicates that it is no longer worth making an effort to stop this degredation – It indicates a loss of hope and effort.

  3. What good, my trusted co-editor, will I be doing our country if I do decide to vote for someone I do not believe is fit to lead us? I fail to see the logic in “It doesn’t matter who you vote for, just as long as you vote”.
    How does that make sense? Why is it so important that I vote, even if my heart is not behind it at all?
    I have not lost hope but I have lost the patience to throw away votes while waiting for a candidate I can believe in. I would rather not vote and show those leading our country that I am tired and frustrated with the way things are being run.
    Maybe my message would be better sent voting for a third party candidate. Either way, at this point I refuse to support McCain or Obama simply because “our future is at stake” and “my voice must be heard.”
    My voice is saying your both unqualified to be my president, and voting this November is not the best way for me to be heard.

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