By Jon Stinchcomb
With the Republican nomination just about decided, the race for the next President of the United States is beginning to take shape. After having a large impact in our last presidential election, many are wondering how the youth voter turnout will fare this year.
Considered part of that youth demographic, many BGSU students said they plan on voting in the upcoming presidential election in November.
Voter turnout among eligible citizens under the age of 30 rose to 51 percent in the 2008 presidential election, which was an increase of two percentage points from 2004, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, a nonpartisan civic research organization at Tufts University. They also said that in 2008 only 36 percent of youth without college experience turned out to vote, compared to the 62 percent of youth with college experience.
According to The Tartan, Carnegie Mellon’s student newspaper, youth voter turnout in the 2008 election was also the second-largest in US history. The largest dates back to 1972, the first year 18-year-olds could vote in a presidential election, which recorded a 55.4 percent turnout.
Though many university students said they do plan on voting, some also said that it isn’t important to them individually.
“I don’t mind it at all,” said Freddy Bittner, 21, an applied health science major. He said that voting isn’t as inconvenient as students might think and doesn’t take much time.
“For me, it’s not super important, but I’m not 100 percent into the politics of everything,” Bittner said. “You don’t really have a right to voice your opinion if you’re not going to go and make a voice by voting.”
However, not every student felt the voting process was that easy.
“It’s not convenient, but I’m willing to go through the motions and steps to get it done,” said Pete Cebull, 21, a nursing major. “Overall, it’s very important.” But he also said that individual people may feel it’s not important because so many others are voting.
Cebull did offer a suggestion that he said he thinks could increase turnout but may raise other concerns. “I think it would be cool if they moved to a way you could do it online,” he said. Cebull also said he couldn’t foresee that happening because of security issues.
Some students said the political climate plays a role in whether or not they vote.
Erin Thomson, 24, a graduate student majoring in criminal justice, said that if a campaign has too much of an emphasis on negativity, she’ll be less inclined to vote at all.
But that wasn’t the case for everyone.
“People are always going to say negative things whether they’re true or not. That’s just a way of life,” said Cierra Henderson, 21, an apparel merchandising and product development major.
A few students said that the issues are the most important factor of voting.
Erica Steele, 21, a human development and family studies major, said students should be aware of the issues prior to voting. “Be educated on what you’re about to vote for,” she said. “Plan ahead and know the issues, because you’re not going to be able to vote twice.”