Students Apathetic About Elections


(Photo by Dane Goodwin)

(Photo by Dane Goodwin)
(Photo by Dane Goodwin)

Elections are right around the corner, but students seem uninterested in voting.
Matthew Burbank, a professor in political science, said there seem to be patterns in student voting across the country.
“You either have students that are very interested and involved, while on the other end, you have students whose priority is not voting,” Burbank said.
Apathy ranks among the top reasons college students don’t turn up to vote, according to Campus Vote Project, a website dedicated to improving voting rates across school campuses. The website states that students do not vote for reasons that include issues with registering or a lack of interest in local politics and candidates.
“The focus for many students is college. Whoever is running for the state legislature is not going to help them in their chemistry class,” Burbank said.
Amber Davis, an undeclared freshman, said she doesn’t think voting makes a difference.
“I live in Utah, which is the reddest state in the union,” Davis said. “Why would I vote for a democratic candidate if it won’t even make a difference? Honestly, for me, the only place I’m even around is the U, so I couldn’t care less what happens in the city.”
Davis is not alone in her feelings. On average, college students typically have less of a voter turnout than any other voting group.
Candidates on a national level are also having to modify their efforts in order to engage younger voters. During the last presidential election, President Obama was praised for utilizing Facebook and Twitter as a way to reach younger voters. These social media campaigns have become the norm as candidates now often have Twitter accounts and active Facebook pages to aid during elections.
Chris Smith, a junior in economics, said he follows the political scene with fervor.
“I love politics,” Smith said. “The money, the intrigue, the power is all very appealing to me. I follow Politico, The New York Times, The Washington Post and every single candidate’s page. It’s an easy way for me to keep them honest.”
Smith said his fascination with politics carries over to his political involvement across Salt Lake City.
“I would love to intern for a candidate, especially with how much bigger their profiles are getting,” Smith said. “Mia Love, for example, really stepped out into the scene during the Republican National Convention during the last election, and now her name is recognizable all across the country.”
Smith said he plans to make his passion a career.
“I’d like to one day become a lobbyist since they seem to be the ones who actually run Washington,” he said. “Econ makes it really easy for me to apply logic and apply what I know to pushing my issues on the floor.”
In regards to students who don’t vote, Smith said he is disappointed in his peers.
“It doesn’t make sense not to take advantage of the ability to be a part of local government,” he said. “These elections matter more immediately than the presidential elections because they are directly in our community.”
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