Story by Ashley Traylor, Staff writer
Students are preparing to vote in the upcoming 2016 presidential election Nov. 8.
Savanna Jones, junior from Carterville, Illinois, said she is registered to vote, has an absentee ballot and pays attention to the presidential debates.
“I really don’t want one person to win,” Jones said. “But one person will affect me personally more than the other, so I care more about voting because of that reason.”
Kaitlyn Peeples, junior from Owensboro, Kentucky, said she is registered to vote and watched the presidential debate Sept. 26, but she is not voting in this election because she does not like either presidential candidate.
“I don’t like it that they take more time beating up the other one than saying what they stand for,” Peeples said. “I don’t care enough about the election.”
According to a 2012 report by the U.S. Census Bureau, adults between the age of 18-24 have lower voting rates than older cohorts.
Drew Seib, assistant professor of political science, said the average voter turnout for an election is 60 percent, but it is expected to be up because of the interest in the election this year. He said the voter turnout for the younger generation will be close to 40 percent.
He said students in the 18-24 cohort do not vote because it is a new process students have to get used to.
“I think right now there are good intentions, but good intentions don’t translate into actual votes,” Seib said. “And unfortunately with the younger generation cohort, it often doesn’t.”
Paul Foote, assistant professor of political science, said he believes there are two reasons students do not vote in elections: they don’t prioritize voting because they are busy with work and school, and some students are unaware of how the voting system works and do not realize their vote is important.
He also said students are not talking about the presidential election in his political science classes.
“It seems like there is certain degree of enthusiasm and interest in the election in all my classes,” Foote said. “They may vote but they are not interested in it enough to ask me questions or talk to me about it in class.”
Lauren Lahm, senior from St. Louis, said she doesn’t watch the debates, but voting does matter.
“Every vote makes a difference,” Lahm said. “If they don’t vote and they don’t like who wins then they just complain about it later. Well, you didn’t do anything to make a change in the first place.”
Seib said politicians focus their attention on the older age groups because they are the people who tend to vote in elections.
Presidential candidates, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, have not visited college campuses to speak to students during this election.
Foote said he thinks politicians believe students are “fickle” and won’t vote in the election so it is not worth reaching out to students on college campuses.
“So I think if 18 to 24-year-olds went out there and they started getting more responsive to politics and started contacting them, I think they would be treated differently by the politicians,” Foote said.
He said students should get involved in politics through social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
Seib said getting involved in politics starts with a conversation. He said he thinks students get frustrated with politics or they are afraid to talk about it, but someone could learn a lot by talking with friends and family.
He said political involvement also requires finding information about the candidates. He said votesmarts.org tackles the beliefs of the candidates, and watching the news will help get students involved within campaigns and elections.
“Voting is a habit,” Seib said. “Once you’ve done it once, you’ve already started that habit and you’re probably going to do it again.”
Foote also stressed the importance of voting in the election.
“I want to tell the group that is most likely here at Murray State, between 18 and 24, that your vote does matter,” Foote said.
HOW TO VOTE
The last day to register to vote is Oct. 11 and the last day to request an absentee ballot is Nov. 1.
To register to vote, complete a voter registration card and submit it to the County Clerk’s Office. The registration card can be mailed or downloaded from the Secretary of State website, according to the Calloway County Clerk’s website.
Students who are registered to vote but will be unable to attend their allocated polling place on Election Day can use absentee ballots to cast their vote.
An absentee ballot can be requested in person, by mail or phone to their home County Clerk’s Office. Once received, the ballot must be sent back to the clerk before 6 p.m. on election day, Nov. 8, according to the Calloway County Clerk website.