The 2018 midterm election is coming up in just a few short weeks on Nov. 6. Many have already registered and are now making final decisions on how they vote.
But there is one population in particular that may not be as focused on the upcoming elections. ClutchPrep.com, an education technology company that helps students succeed in classes, is concerned about the amount of college students and those of college age who are not voting.
Because of their work in education, they believe college students are a needed population for voting since they are learning and understand many of the issues that voters need to be educated on.
According to a blog post they recently published, only 48% of college students voted in the 2016 presidential election. And the numbers are even worse for midterm elections.
“Only 18% of college students voted in the 2014 midterm election. Conversely, 70% of retirees vote. Do you think that those retirees are accurately representing your interests?” said Todd Metheny, the author of the blog post. “Voting among college students is a passion of mine. Since we care about students and issues facing students, we’re interested in using our audience as a platform for encouraging students to register and vote.”
Many college aged students do think that their vote matters.
“I think voting is important and voting for qualified people matter,” said Danie Armstrong, a senior at Tabor. “I have registered to vote and will be voting on Nov. 6. I would say for my friends voting, it is about half and half. I do think they need to care about the world we live in and the people in power who change our world.”
Kerensa Holler is also a senior at Tabor, and she agrees that voting is necessary.
“I think it is important for college students to vote, because we’re a part of a generation that’s going to outnumber baby boomers sooner than later, and right now, as a millennial, or whatever you want to call the generation born in the 80s to the late 90s, and even Gen Z is becoming apart of the voting age,” said Holler. “I know people aren’t happy with the policies in the government at the moment, and protests help, but so does voting.”
Amanda Bartel is a freshman at Wichita State University. She was too young to vote in the last election, but she plans to vote in this election.
“Voting gives us a say in our government. It allows me to have a say in who is in power in my future. These elections directly effect me, and everyone in this country,” said Bartel. “College students need to vote because it is our future, and we are the future. It’s now our job to vote and improve our country.”
Shelby Johnson is taking a year off of school, but she know that she needs to vote and that college students in general need to.
“It’s very important for college students to vote. We are the hardest workers, the best thinkers, and the do-ers of our lifetime. Just one vote can make a huge impact even if it doesn’t seem like it,” said Johnson.
While Ellian Weisbeck, a student at Hutchinson Community College, is voting on Nov 6 for several reasons, she has one main reason that is motivating her to do her civic duty.
“Yes, I will vote. I feel like if I don’t exercise my right to vote I don’t have a right to complain about who gets elected,” said Weisbeck. “It is always important to stay informed and practice our rights given to us as American citizens.”
Anna Glanzer, sophomore at Tabor College, also plans to vote in the upcoming midterm election.
“A lot of college students may not think voting is a big deal, but I believe that if more young adults voted, the outcome of a vote could swing dramatically. Issues voted on affect all of our futures, no matter your age, so it most definitely is important to get out and let your opinion be heard,” said Glanzer. “Also, at Tabor, there was a day specifically designated this year that made it easy to register to vote which was great.”
Realizing that not all college students register on their own initiative, many colleges, including Tabor, have been running events to help students register on their campus.
“We had a voter registration drive at the beginning of September. History, Political Science, the Multicultural Student Union, and the Marion County County Clerk’s Office collaborated,” said Tabor Adjunct Professor Brooklyn Walker. “Our drive was held for 3 days. Each day we set up a table outside the cafeteria for one hour. We registered 14 new voters and students completed 6 advance ballot applications.”
While many students may have already registered to vote, that number seems extremely low for the amount of students who attend Tabor. According to their website there are 770 students enrolled at Tabor.
Part of that number includes high school students who only take one to three online courses making the actual number of full time, traditional students lower than reported on the website. Those students and some of the traditional population will not be able to vote due to not yet being 18. More of the population are students from other countries so they will not be able to vote either.
But there are still a lot of students who could vote and make a difference just at Tabor alone. So why aren’t more students voting?
“Many of my peers say they will be voting, and those who won’t say it is because of a lack of time or convenience,” said Abby Driggers, a freshmen at the University of Kansas.
Metheny agrees with this assessment based on the research he did for his blog post.
“College students have so much going on. It would be ideal if we could have a way to bring the voting process to the campuses instead of them going out to vote,” said Metheny.
But there are alternatives for many students if they simply can’t get to a voting site on Nov. 6. All states have absentee voting or voting by mail, but who can participate in it varies by state. Some states also have early voting. Kansas has both early voting and no-excuse absentee voting.
“I probably will be voting by mail because in my opinion it is the easiest way especially for busy college students.
For some college students, they are simply overwhelmed with all they have going on that informed voting just doesn’t seem feasible.
“I will not be voting because I have not done any research on the candidates,” said Dylan Wiens, a freshman at Tabor.
Brooklyn Walker and other professors have some theories about why more students won’t vote.
“During the registration drive, we had a chance to talk to some students about voting. Most students were not interested in registering. When we were able to get them to stop to chat, they indicated that they didn’t like politics, said Walker. “When I’ve talked with students about politics, they communicate a high level of disillusionment with politics in general. There seems to be a majority view that politics is dominated by the power, that institutions (such as the press) can’t be trusted, and that the political participation of everyday people doesn’t make a difference.”
Tabor College Assistant Professor of History Jessica Klanderud added, “I sensed that students are turned off by the high level of partisanship in today’s political environment.”
Bartel agreed with these reasons.
“I know that a small percentage of them (peers) are registered but, unfortunately, many of them don’t think it will make a difference if they vote,” said Bartel.
Walker believes that there is still much work that can be done for future elections. She is already planning ways that she can help.
“Next semester I’m teaching US Politics, and my assignments require that students participate in some way. I’m hoping that engagement will help students feel more comfortable with participation and that they will have a better sense of how important participation can be,” said Walker.
“For those college students who have already registered, it is important to finish following through on the process and actually show up and vote or fill out the ballots and mail them in,” said Metheny.
It will be interesting to see how the numbers look for the younger population in the election. We will soon know as Nov. 6 is quickly approaching.