How do we get more youths to vote?

Historically speaking, the youth of America have always had one of the lowest voting turnouts. This week’s Student Association elections saw about a thousand students on a 20,000+ campus turnout to vote, despite it’s relative ease to do so.

For this week’s “In Focus,” various Northern Star columnists and cartoonists will weigh in on this question: What would you say, or do, to get more youths to vote?

Aaron Brooks, columnist: What does it matter? A person should only vote if they are informed about the candidates, and they understand the issues at hand. Too many people are ignorant, which leaves them vulnerable to hate-filled attacks. If you are ignorant, then you succumb to these attacks, and your views become more and more polarized, leading to more and more polarized politicians. In my opinion, the sanest thing a young person can do is not vote. Insofar as Student Association elections, speaking as a former SA Senator, the SA is useless. All the SA does is handout money to student organizations. Their more important responsibilities are neglected due to poor leadership. So, I say keep the voter turnout low, because then it is the perfect internship for ‘real life’ politics.

Phil Case, columnist: I think the first step toward increasing voter turnout within younger demographics is having schools offer classes that introduce the importance of the political process at a younger age. While I do not think that middle school students should be worrying themselves with complex political issues like immigration and health care reform, I do think there needs to be an emphasis on the fact that their opinions of important topics will eventually play a key role in determining our national policies. By the time they have reached the legal voting age, many of them have already tuned out of the political climate.

Jessica Jenks, columnist: People have so many different things going on in their lives. Everyone is constantly being pulled in all different directions. Somehow the people running for election need to make a connection with the voters. Young people who are able to vote now were not able to vote just a few short years ago. Up until the age they are allowed to vote, people running for office ignore them. Maybe if young people felt like the mattered before they were allowed to vote, they would be more inclined to vote once eligible.

Portia Kerr-Newman, columnist: The youth would vote more freely if they believed their votes counted. They would be willing to fight for who they thought deserved the position if they felt there would be change and new ideas would be brought about. Some would also vote if they believed voting would bring some sort of advancement to their lives. If a change were put in place to increase federal funding for schools, provide more jobs and health care, students would feel the need to vote. Promoting voting at schools, college campuses and parties could increase voting awareness. Youth want to feel like they matter.

Kathryn Minniti, columnist: We need to get our youth to put down the Xbox controller, log off Facebook and get off the message boards that complain about our government and go vote and make a difference. I find it very odd that people despise some past presidents, yet they do not vote. I won’t say all, but most of our youth is lazy. They sit there and complain about what is going on, but they do not take any action. We need to really educate our youth and explain that complaining and whining does not change anything. We are the future of the United States of America; if you are going to watch TV, turn on the news and get educated. If you are going to hop on your MacBook, type in a news website and learn something. There are some people that do not even vote, yet they complain about our government. With that attitude, I can only see the future of our country going downhill. Nonvoters have said, “My one vote does not make a difference.” If that one vote does not make a difference, then why would you think your complaining does? Every vote counts, and that is a big point that needs to get across.

Logan Short, columnist: In order to gain more youth votes, it must be determined why the youth aren’t voting. But before that is determined, I think this question should be asked: would the turnout of the election be better off with more youth votes, worse or the same? While many would argue that it is undemocratic of me to suggest this, I believe that with the way a majority of our youth is, why would we want more of them to vote? I think a healthy voter turnout is not one of certain demographics, but one that is educated and personally deals with the issues their representatives will manage; otherwise it is just a popularity contest. The benefit in suggesting that only the educated and experienced should vote is that they tend to be the ones who do anyway. So, my suggestion: inform, educate, tell, expose and all of the above.

Frank Simek, cartoonist: In my opinion, this is probably the only course that Republicans can take to gain popularity. Some of the points are hard to reinforce when most of the American voters that I converse with around and about campus are completely behind the health care bill that the Obama administration fought for half of a presidential term to pass. The stimulus and bailout programs are probably strong trump cards that the Tepublicans can hold against Democratic frontline defenses. I think that if the Republican Party wants to hit the Democratic status quo, the Obama concept of taking the national/global WMD count down to “0” in correlation with national security should be stressed to the utmost.

Taurean Small, columnist: There are a million things on the average college student’s mind, and unfortunately, Student Association elections is not one of those things. The process is a dull and unfulfilling one. I am pretty sure every time I dropped my vote into a ballot box, I never got that feeling of, “I just made a difference.” Although there is not much candidates can do to change that feeling, maybe they can make the process more exciting. Become more personable and interactive with the student body. Instead of posting a few posters encouraging students to vote for a stranger with a nice smile, get to know a few hundred more students that will vote for you because they are your friends.