The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Young people still aren’t coming out in full force to vote

With presidential candidates coming out to university campuses and rooting for change, there still seems to be mixed feelings as to whether young voters will make their presence known at the polls.

There are students who have the passion to vote instilled in them from a young age but there are also students who do not care for the subject of politics.

“From my experience it was the school system and my parents who encouraged me to vote,” said Cynthia Jacques, an exchange student from Suffolk University in Boston.

“I don’t think one person makes a difference,” said Jonathan Cohen, biology major.

The younger demographic has never truly come out in full force to the polls as much as the older demographic voters have.

“[It’s] because we feel our vote doesn’t matter,” Jacques said.

Dr. Jennifer De Maio, an assistant professor in the political science department, asked her class of 230 students how many of them had registered to vote. Only half of her students raised their hand when asked the question.

Dr. Lawrence Becker, an associate professor in the political science department, said there are two reasons why young people do not vote.

First, there are institutional barriers. In order to vote, you have to be registered and you are less likely to be registered where you live, Becker said.

Students are mobile and sometimes they don’t have the time to go and register, Becker said.

Second, young people tend to be disconnected from politics, Becker said.

Issues such as policy, health care and taxes are less likely to be of concern to young voters than to the older demographic, Becker said.

“People’s political perception is shaped by something large happening,” Becker said.

Jacques said that nothing has happened to the young demographic to give them a wake up call, including the war in Iraq.

“It’s not hitting us,” Jacques said.

The fact of the matter is young voters are not realizing the repercussions of their actions by not voting.

Becker explained that voting patterns show that politicians are more likely to be in trouble by the older demographic if they do something wrong.

By trying to keep their voters happy, the only other demographic politicians can target are the young people. Politicians can tax them without getting punished by them because they do not turn out in large numbers to the polls, Becker said.

“Young voters just need to vote in big numbers to be taken seriously,” Becker said.

“We may not see the consequences right now, but when we’re 40 or 50 we’ll start seeing the consequences with the leaders we chose,” said Jackie Azucena, a sociology major.

“We don’t know the serious impact if we don’t vote,” Jacques said.

By being oblivious to the issues that will in time effect them, young people are not taking advantage of choosing the kind of government they want.

Young people are able to voice their stance on issues they don’t agree with because they have already taken the initiative by going out and casting their vote. “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain,” Jacques said.

However, in order to be a voter who is knowledgeable about the voting process and the way the government works, one must be educated.

Most students in their high school career take classes such as U.S. History and American Government. In addition, some high school curriculums offer a civics course for one semester, where students are taught the voting process and divisions of government.

Azucena attended Bishop Conaty Our Lady of Loretto High School, an all girls’ catholic school, where she studied civics for only one semester.

By having civics be incorporated throughout all four years of high school, it will make it more likely for students to remember the fundamentals they are taught, Azucena said.

Becker pitches to his students that if they do not vote, they’re going to get hurt.

Every citizen of the United States, whether naturalized or U.S. born, has the fundamental right to vote.

“It lets you express what your thoughts are,” Azucena said.

However, some feel that not enough light has been shed upon the importance of this right.

“If they had emphasized that in school then I probably wouldn’t have taken it for granted,” said Luke McDaniel, a CTVA major.

The act of voting should not be considered a duty or obligation, but a means to have your interest represented by government, Becker said.

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