After countless speeches, TV advertisements and months of campaigning, the 2012 Presidential Election is just four days away and students are preparing to cast their votes, some for the first time ever.
It is the hope of several faculty that this year’s Election Day turnout will surpass the last presidential election.
The 2008 presidential election saw an unprecedented influx of young voters ages 18-29. According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), an estimated 23 million youth voted, up 3.4 million from the last election, 52 percent of youth voting.
A recent poll by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics found only 48 percent of voters under the age of 30 are sure they will be voting.
The Millennials’ lack of interest in this election can be attributed to several factors, including lack of focus on them during the election season and a change in this elections’ focus – foreign and domestic policy – which young voters are not as passionate about.
In an interview with The Miami Herald, John Della Volpe, polling director of Harvard’s political institute, cited the lack of historical importance of this election as compared to 2008 as another aspect influencing young voters turn out.
“When I talk to young people who aren’t as passionate, who aren’t as enthusiastic about the November election, they talk about it in those terms,” Della Volpe said. “(The last election) was a historical event. They needed to participate, even if politics weren’t important to them, to say that they were there – that they had a hand in changing the course of America. It’s kind of like our parents, perhaps, saying they were at Woodstock in 1969.”
Jerod Seib, assistant professor of humanities and fine arts, said it was important for students to vote because the of number of issues the federal government will be addressing in the coming term will have a direct effect on students.
“The government will be addressing possible cuts to education, something that could impact their ability to attend college in the coming years,” he said. “Likewise, it’s important because the policies that the federal government deals with today will have an impact for years to come.”
Seib said he has been helping to increase the awareness of politics to students by talking about current events in his class every day and talking about the registration process.
Seib said, despite having the day off school, he still doesn’t expect many students at Murray State will take the time to vote, but the issue was not about awareness, or lack of fervor.
“(The problem) is registration,” Seib said. “Many college students are not registered to vote and of those who are, many are registered to vote back home, making the voting process even more difficult.”
Katie Wilborn, sophomore from Louisville, Ky., said she tried to register to vote and thinks voting is important, but she was too late.
“I was just really busy and lost track of time,” Wilborn said. “Honestly, I didn’t know when the deadline for when you couldn’t register anymore was.”
Jason Robertson, junior from St. Louis, Mo., said most of his friends are going to vote, and encourages others to do so, too.
Said Seib: “It’s important to remember that this is the time that we get to give candidates feedback … If there is an issue you care about, it’s not going to get any attention by you sitting at home.”
Story by Ben Manhanke, Staff writer.