Last week, college students from all over the U.S. cast their vote in the midterm elections. Many, however, did not. Some would say complacency is to blame while others link political un-involvement to the rebellious nature of our generation.
The lack of voter turn-out among young people, however, cannot be traced to one or two causes.
A 2012 Campus Vote Project study estimated 24 percent of all eligible young people ages 18-29 voted in the 2010 midterms.
“General election voter turnout for the 2014 midterm was the lowest it’s been in any midterm election since World War II,” according to the United States Election Project. The Oklahoma turn-out was among the worst where only 30 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot.
Just 36.4 percent of the voting-eligible population cast ballots as of last Tuesday, continuing a steady decline in midterm voter participation that has spanned several decades
“I am not registered in Stillwater,” said OSU student Payton Wines, “with 15 credit hours and a part-time job I don’t have time to drive home to vote.”
Many young people like Wynes are saying the same thing.
A majority of college students have two addresses, one at home and one at their university.
At OSU, 24 percent of the student body is paying out- of- state tuition. In fact, a mere ___ of the 4,070 students in OSU’s 2014 freshman class enrolled as Stillwater high school graduates.
Another potential ailment is that historically, town locals have discouraged college students from voting due to their liberal reputation.
“One of the reasons in the past that jurisdictions have tried to deny the vote to college students is that they expected that college students might vote differently from the rest of them,” Loyola Law School Professor Richard Hasen said.
Despite these possible causes, the issue still stands. College students are not politically involved.
Many college students don’t vote is because they can’t figure out how. The process is simple. With a quick visit to Google anyone of age can fill out a form to print and mail for registration. The time dedication is minimal.
Ultimately, the voting issue in young people comes down to the disproportionate morals of society. Greek students are encouraged to spend a minimum of 10 hours a week during homecoming sticking tissue paper through chicken wire and college athletes devote 30-40 hours per week to their sport.
Today’s student has become an expert on Follies show make-up, tapping kegs and tailgating and in turn, thrown political knowledge to the wind.
“An estimated 70 percent of college students say that they don’t consider themselves to be politically engaged or politically active,” according to a recent study by Knowledge Networks on behalf of Harvard University’s Institute of Politics.
A majority of college students do not want to be politically involved. It is often said that the overwhelming Republican majority of Oklahoma makes any contrasting vote irrelevant and because of this, students see their vote as insignificant.
Our generation is conflicting.. We prefer rambling opinions over action. We would rather complain than make moves toward change.
We love to express opinions on social networks like Facbook or Twitter, unfortunately, the strong views expressed on social media are not translating into activism.
Sitting on our hands when it comes to issues that can be changed by a popular vote is like complaining about being over weight and not working out.
Ultimately their will always be a reason not to vote. Weather it be time commitment, ignorance or complacency, but an opinion that is not supported by fact and action is irrelevant.
The millenials, citizens 18-24, make up 10 percent of the U.S. population. With motivation and mobilization, our young minds have the potential to create big change. It is our time and it starts with a vote.