New generation lacks voting drive

Men and women between the ages of 18 to 24 decreased their participation in the electorate between 2010 and 2012, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. Citizens within this age range made up 8.5 percent of the electorate in the 2012 election, one percentage point lower than in 2010.

The overall percentage of student voters has also decreased since the last presidential election. According to the Center, 51 percent voted in 2008 while only 45 percent voted in 2012.

With midterm elections less than one month away, John Brown University students must soon decide how they will contribute to the statistic.

JBU students have varying opinions concerning why the youth vote is so low.

“Students do not vote because they do not know where they stand,” Sophomore Abby Servaes said.

Senior Jessica Foley agreed that many students have yet to make up their minds about what they believe and are in the process of separating their own views from those of their parents, making them unsure of which side to support during the election.

“Many students think they have better things to do than vote and pay attention to the government,” Servaes said.

The Center agreed with this statement and said that one way to increase student turnout is to provide them with information.

Freshman Myriah Yam said she has not yet registered to vote, describing the process as confusing.

The Center stated that students do have a lower registration rate than older age groups. However, registering to vote is heavily related with student turnout, and research showed that only 84 percent of registered voters between the ages of 18 and 29 actually go to the polls.

Yam also said students are probably a bit lazy and feel as if their votes will not matter. This makes them feel as if it is not worth the effort, especially considering the work they must put forth to register to vote and research the candidates and issues presented.

“Even though students do not feel like their votes matter, they do,” Yam said.

The Center pushed that college-age students can influence the results of an election, showing that the number of youth eligible to vote is actually larger than that of the elderly population.

Professor of political science Frank Niles said JBU students are similar to their college peers and are not especially interested in politics.

One way to become involved in politics is for students to engage in class work that requires political interaction, Niles said.

Another way of thinking about politics is to consider it in terms of social justice — an area in which JBU students have shown particular interest, Niles said. He highlighted that social justice translates into politics since many social justice fixes have come through government.

Another way to encourage student engagement is to think about how citizens live out their cultural mandate through political involvement, Niles said.