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Voters question the importance of their ballot

The majority of people in the U.S. are unsure of whether their vote matters saying that, “Voting by people like me doesn’t really affect how the government runs things,” according to a study published by Pew Research Center this month.

The article also said that, “Those not learning about the election are more likely to be young, less educated and have mixed ideological views.”

Ann Marie Pile, freshman biochemistry major who claims to be independent, said that it is important for our generation to vote because the world is changing daily and our opinions need to be verbalized.

Young voters, ages 18 through 24, normally vote at lower rates than all other age groups, but this same age group has the most fluctuation from each election on how many people turn out to vote, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Tanis Taft, freshman English education major said that the reason she does not vote is because she does not feel like she knows enough about the candidates to vote for one of them.

“Every vote matters, but just by me voting they do not know what I am thinking or my reasons,” Taft said of the government.

Niyah Graves, junior youth ministries major, is registered to vote but is unsure of which party to affiliate with.

“I’m not completely sure, but I think I am Democratic,” Graves said. “I agree with them but not completely.”

In states with closed primary elections, it is necessary for voters to align with either the Democratic or Republican Party. Voters who are independent or unsure of their affiliation cannot
vote in primaries in the 15 closed states, and if they wish to change their affiliation, they must do so ahead of time.

Graves is not the only one who is unsure which party she aligns with most. In interviews with students on campus, four out of 10 students did not know what party they align with.

Graves said voting is important but she did not vote in the midterm and primary elections because she is from Texas and is not registered in Arkansas. While students from out of state may vote in their state’s primary election through an absentee ballot, this requires requesting an absentee ballot and sending it in several weeks ahead of time.

Caitlyn Powell, sophomore biology major, is registered to vote but is not registered with any certain party. She said that people probably do not vote because they feel like their vote does not matter or that they are not up to date on politics.

Ten University students from across the political spectrum were interviewed about their opinion on why people from their generation don’t vote. Fifty percept said that people don’t because of the effort required and fifty percent said that it’s because people are misinformed or uneducated. Fourty percent said that people feel their vote doesn’t matter. Most of the students listed for skipping out of voting participation.

Out of the 10 people interviewed, only two people voted in the last primary election. Zero voted in the last midterm election.

There were varying reasons for why people did not participate. Grant Jones, freshman
communication major, is a registered Republican. Jones said he was busy with midterms while junior political science major Luke Merrick, who is a registered Republican, had issues with an error in his voting registration.

The midterm election in 2014 had the lowest turnout of votes in 70 years. From 1940 to 2014 there was a decline of more than 20 percent.

Even though there was a decrease in the majority of the population in Arkansas, there was a 10 percent increase during the 2014 midterm election, according to PBS.

The presidential elections also have small voter turnout when it comes to young adults. From 1964 to 2012 there was a decrease of a little more than 10 percent. It was not just young adults that are not voting; it is people from every age group, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“A better explanation may be that young people today do not feel they have much of a stake in society. Having children and owning property gives you a direct interest in how schools and hospitals are run, and whether parks and libraries are maintained. But if they settle down at all, young people are waiting ever longer to do it,” according to an editorial published by economist.com.

Four out of 10 people felt that people should go out and vote because it is their right.

Jones said it is our right as citizens to vote and that Americans should use their political franchise because some people around the world do not have that right.

The general elections, which are the election for new congress members and president, will be held on November 8. Students not from Arkansas may cast their ballot early from out of state through an absentee ballot.