Rock the Vote

ALEX BARTLOW | | Opinion Columnist

Over a hundred years ago, Hazen S. Pingree, the late mayor of Detroit and the governor of Michigan, said, “Voter apathy was and will remain the greatest threat to democracy.”

Voter apathy is when potential voters decide they do not care who wins and loses in an election, which later translates into less and less people voting during elections. Voter apathy seems to be strongest among young Americans.

Jim Keating, an English and university core professor at Butler, believes voting is not only important; it is also a “civic responsibility” in our country.

“If young people do not vote, then their entire future will be determined by other people who do vote,” Keating said.  “I believe young people should be a part of the conversation about solutions to problems.”

Only 24 percent of all eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 29 voted in the 2010 midterm elections, according to a statistic gathered by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.

In my eyes, that is a surprising statistic.

We are not only responsible for electing the current leaders and voting on the changing policies in the United States of America, but we are also ultimately responsible for determining the future of the nation we live in.

Is it that college students do not care about voting?  Possibly. However, there may be a different reason behind our lack of contribution.

Over a quarter of college students reported in 2010 they did not register to vote because they did not know where or how to register or they missed the deadline, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.

This seems to be the case with many students here at Butler.

Adam Lucchesi, a freshman international business major, found himself in this situation during the recent midterm election.  Having turned 18 only a few months ago, he was unaware of when and where to register.

“As an 18-year-old, voting is something that I’ve been looking forward to for the past few years, and now I am finally able to do so,” Lucchesi stated.  “However, it is difficult to find registration information and locations, which prevented me from voting in the midterms.”

For future reference, voting information can usually be found online with some guidance. However, I have noticed most college students are rarely informed or alerted about things outside of their university.

Additionally, college students usually tend to be focused on other things besides voting.

Kelly Patterson, a Brigham Young University professor, emphasized that “students are busy,” according to an article in Brigham Young’s student newspaper the Daily Universe.

“They’re taking classes; they’re working jobs—those kinds of things,” Patterson said in the article.

With the recent movements and protests by the younger generations, it is astonishing that we are not contributing our votes to change what we disagree with.

Randy Brown, a Butler career mentor, insists voting should be an essential part of life for everyone eligible.

“College students arguably have the most at stake in elections, since they will live the longest with the decisions politicians make,” Brown said.  “Plus, politicians will ignore your demographic if they know you do not vote.”

As we grow older and begin to see the importance of the policies put into place within our country, we will be more likely to vote for what we believe in.

In fact, voter turnout for people ages 65 and older was an astonishing 72 percent in the 2012 election, according to the Census Bureau.

Whether it be health care laws, marijuana legalization or taxation changes, every citizen, young or old, matters in the election process.

During the next election in 2016, it could be your vote that determines the next President of the United States.