With the 2012 presidential election inching closer, it is imperative that we, as a society, become aware of our right to vote. Nearly all college students are of voting age and can easily exercise their voting right.
10 students agreed to tell me if they planned to vote in the upcoming presidential election. Four out of these 10 students said they did NOT plan on participating in the presidential election. I went further in asking two of the students who answered “no” why they did not intend on voting.
Their answers were as follows:
1. “I don’t really know anything about it.”
2. “I am not even registered.”
The 2008 Census Bureau voting survey gave a staggering list of reasons for the public not participating in the presidential election. 13% of people said they had a lack of interest and also, another 13 percent said they disliked the candidates. More than a quarter of the registered nonvoters did not vote because they said they were not interested or did not like the candidates. 15 percent reported their illness or disability kept them from voting, this was especially common among the older registered nonvoters. 17 percent said they were too busy, or had a conflicting schedule. That totals to nearly a third of the registered nonvoters. Another 6 percent said they had problems with their voter registration, 3 percent claimed they did not have access to convenient polling locations, and another 3 percent said they had transportation difficulties. Also, less than 1 percent reported that bad weather kept them from voting.
The United States Census Bureau affirmed astounding statistics concerning the lack of voting among adults ages 18-24. Less than 42 percent of adults within this age range are registered voters. Only 20 percent actually partook in voting. The census stated that 52 percent of people with some college education were registered, while only 26 percent joined in the voting. Nearly 61 percent of adults who had earned a bachelor’s degree are registered voters. However, only 32 percent took part in the election.
As difficult as it may be to grasp the idea that less than 50 percent of U.S. citizens between the ages of 18-24 took the time to cast their vote, the real concern is asking why these individuals choose not to vote. Could it be young Americans do not recognize the significance in voting? Are they hindered by the idea that their vote does not count? Or is it simply that they are consumed with other priorities and are sadly unaware of the presidential candidates and their values?
After asking these same students if they were able to name any or all of the presidential candidates, only a few were able to name at least two candidates (President Obama understandably standing as one of the candidates).
I asked three registered voters why they thought young adults did not vote and their answers are as follows:
1. “They do not understand the voting process. They are unaware on how to register and the process that follows.”
2. “They are lazy.”
3. “Many of them do not know who to vote for, in result–they do not vote at all.”
As we are faced with the 2012 presidential election, I certainly hope that you consider choosing to participate. In spite of argument, each vote does, in fact, count. Living in a smaller state such as Oklahoma, I realize that we only receive seven electoral votes, which can seem insignificant compared to California’s 55 electoral votes, along with our neighboring state, Texas who has 34 electoral votes. However, all electoral votes considered, less than 50 percent of adults between the ages of 18-24 did not contribute to their state’s electoral votes. If a small state such as Oklahoma broke through the undersized voting percentage and took a hold of their opportunity, our 7 electoral votes could mean the difference in any election.
What to do?
1. Take 30 minutes out of your Facebook or Twitter time and google the presidential candidates.
2. Read into their morals, ethics, and political stands.
3. Figure out which candidate you most closely agree with.
4. Go to http://www.ok.gov/elections/Voter_Registration/ and download an application form, along with the instructions that follow.
5. On November 6, 2012, cast your vote for the next President of the United States. You may be extremely surprised to find how empowering submitting your vote can feel.