College Students Encouraged to Vote

By Karlito Almeda
On September 26, 2016

Photo courtesy of CollegeDegrees360, Flickr

In every election since 1972, millions of people between the ages of 18 and 29 cast their votes, but fail to compete with other demographic age groups such as those categorized in the 30-44, 45-60, and 60+ age ranges.

In the 2012 election, Obama garnered most of the youth’s vote nationally. Had Romney divided the youth vote instead of receiving 30 percent to Obama’s 67 percent of the vote, the country might have seen the first Mormon President. During this election, the youth have played an important electoral role in critical states such as Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Since the 1990s, when youth turnout was at its lowest, presidential elections have seen an increasing amount of those between 18 and 29 at the voting booth. However, the youth turnout rate has not overcome overall trends of less people participating in presidential elections.

Despite the increases in voter turnout between those 18 and 29, only 28 percent in 2012 attended campaign events in battleground states.  

According to the Pew Research Center, “Young voters are more diverse racially and ethnically than older voters and more secular in their religious orientation. These characteristics, as well as the climate in which they have come of age politically, incline them not only toward Democratic Party affiliation but also toward greater support of activist government, greater opposition to the war in Iraq, less social conservatism and a greater willingness to describe themselves as liberal politically.”

What is apparent is this: politicians will employ technological and societal developments as a tool for garnering the youth’s vote, but will seldom propose programs that would tremendously affect this population.

Regardless of partisanship, the younger demographic plays a critical role as a growing populace of the electorate. Both parties heavily employ young people as spokespeople for their individual campaigns, but fail to mobilize more individuals. Typically, individuals that participate in the civic process are those that wish to pursue careers as politicians, elected officials, campaigners and policy advisers, but few participate as part of their civic duty.

As written on the Democratic Party’s page, “In recent years Democrats have further increased access to higher education and restructured and dramatically expanded college financial aid, while making federal programs simpler, more reliable, and more efficient for students. In 2010, President Obama signed into law student loan reform, that cut out the role of big banks. The Obama administration also doubled our investment in Pell Grants and made it easier for students to pay back student loans. President Obama has worked to reform the higher education system and invested the most in student aid since the G.I. Bill.”

The American Government should make vocational schools, technical schools, colleges and universities free for all Americans - there should be no such thing as student debt. This is based on the belief that the government would be investing into the future by equipping the next generation with the necessary tools to succeed and compete in today’s global economy; this was the platform of Bernie Sanders. The belief in investing in our future has since been adopted by Hillary Clinton. Although it is not identical to Sanders’ plan, it is a step in the right direction.

kalmeda@ramapo.edu 

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