NEW WILMINGTON, PA- The midterms present a first-time opportunity for many undergraduates to exercise, for the first time, their right to vote. But will they? Researchers at Tufts Univerity study how young people engage in elections. The National Study of Learning, Voting & Engagement found only 18 percent of students voted in the midterms in 2014.
While interviewing students at Westminster College, WCN 24/7 discovered mixed results when we asked undergrads if they were registered to vote and if they planned to participate in the General Election.
Frank Pantano, a senior marketing major, said he didn’t have time to register to vote.
“I just don’t have the time to keep up with it,” Pantano said about the midterms. “I might vote in a presidential election; I don’t know.”
That sentiment upset one New Wilmington resident we talked with for this story. She didn’t want us to use her name.
“They should get out and do their duty,” she said referring to young people who don’t vote.
She also echoed understanding why other people are frustrated with politics. She complained that you never hear from elected officials until it was election season.
“The people who are running only show up a two weeks before voting time. People that are voting only show up the last two weeks of voting time. And I don’t know who they are, so why should I go out and vote for them. Where are they at the rest of the year?”
John Kaiser, a sociology major, said he’s never been interested in politics. He’s a history major, but he says the 2016 race for the White House turned him off to elections. He didn’t like the candidates, so he didn’t vote.
“I think I will vote in the next presidential election,” Kaiser said. “I’m really hoping for some better candidates. I definitely think I’ll be more into politics post-grad.”
David Peffer, the Academics Chair for Westminster’s Student Government, says it is important for the youth of America get out to vote. But he understands why undergrads feel apathtic because they don’t feel they can affect change and they don’t believe one vote can make a difference.
“I would tell them that it really depends on us to make a change.”
Peffer concluded with a simple statement.