With the midterm elections taking place next week, voter turnout could play a major role in impacting the outcomes of the different elections.
Since the start of the school year, multiple Ohio University clubs have made an effort to register students to vote and encourage out of state students to apply for absentee ballots. Their efforts are especially important considering how low of a turnout college-aged voters have at the polls each year.
In the 2010 midterm elections, 24 percent of adults aged 18-29 voted, according to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. For comparison, 51.4 percent of adults aged 30 and older voted in the same election.
A lack of participation from younger voters is not new. Although people like to claim our generation is lazy when it comes to voting, the younger demographic consistently has a low voter turnout rate. The New York Times reported, “In 1976, when boomers were between 18 and 30 years old, their turnout rate was 50 percent. In 2008, 51 percent of millennials — ages 18 to 28 at the time — voted.”
Although much of the blame is placed on voter apathy, there are multiple factors that have lead to such low numbers in this demographic year after year.
Between classes, jobs and extracurricular activities, some college students find it difficult to find the time to make it out to the polls or research the candidates.
Another factor to consider is the absentee ballot for out-of-state students. Though the actual act of acquiring an absentee ballot is not difficult, it can be enough of a hassle to deter a student from voting.
One of the biggest factors influencing voter turnout is whether a presidential election or midterm election is taking place. According to fairvote.org, “In the U.S., about 60% of the voting eligible population votes during presidential election years and about 40% votes during midterm elections.”
Midterm elections might not seem as important to students because they are not covered as thoroughly as presidential elections. The press coverage for the presidential elections basically starts a year after the previous election, and rumors are constantly being discussed about whether someone will run or not, and what will help or hurt a candidate.
But in reality, midterm elections are just as important as presidential elections, and even though they don’t receive as much press, it’s still important for voters — especially young voters — to show their support for the country and vote.
It’s easy for college students to brush off elections with the mindset that one person will not make an impact. But in order for democracy to work, the people must have a say. We are given our voice through the power of voting and although it seems like something that has been emphasized since the beginning of time, every vote counts, and it is important to exercise our right as Americans to make an impact on our country.