BYU students talk about young-voter turnout

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Young voters this November faced a tougher decision than which candidate to vote for. Many had to choose whether to vote at all.

A recent study conducted by the Harvard Institute of Politics showed only 48 percent of voters between the ages 18 and 29 would “definitely” be voting in the election. The study also found young Romney supporters more likely to vote. Some 65 percent said they would “definitely” vote compared to 55 percent among young Obama supporters.

Young voters are a coveted demographic for candidates. But for whatever reason, they tend not to vote.

One cause of such low voter turnout could be lack of information. For students who are not interested in politics there may be little desire to take the time and research candidates.

Carly Landgrave, from Denver, believes young voters feel like they don’t know enough.

“I think they have so many other things that they’re focused on that they just feel like they don’t have time or they don’t feel like they have the knowledge to make an educated vote,” Langrave said.

A lot of young voters may not understand the importance of voting.

Jeff Rose, from Gilroy, Calif., studying commercial recreation, said the lack of information among young voters stems from an overall sense of apathy.

“I think it’s partially awareness, they haven’t really studied up on the candidates. They don’t feel that they have an opinion,” Rose said. “They’re kind of nonchalant about it, and they don’t really think that it matters. But also they just don’t understand how important it is for society.”

Andrew Moore, a political science major, also thinks apathy is at the root of low voter turnout among young adults.

“I do think people get frustrated that their vote won’t count, especially if their state has a predictable outcome based on the population,” Moore said.

But not all young voters feel that way and are voting because they view it as their responsibility.

Sarah Jane Clark is a Latin American studies major from Minnesota and said she was voting.

“I just feel like it’s a duty that we have as citizens. That we just need to vote regardless of what our views are. It’s just part of our responsibilities and part of the blessings of living in a democracy,” Clark said.

Clark also mentioned the encouragement members of the LDS Church receive from general authorities to vote.

Many BYU students must apply for an absentee ballot in order to vote in their home states. This process requires thinking about the election months before it actually happens. For those uninterested in the political process, it is easy to forget until it is too late.

This is the case for Josie Pearson, who is an elementary education major from Indiana. She said that along with apathy, this lack of forethought could be responsible for low voter turnout.

Regardless of why young voters frequently fail to turnout at the polls, Rose believes young adults should start the practice early in order to make it a habit.

“It’s really important to set a pattern,” Rose said. “If (young adults) vote earlier then it’s going to be a lot more likely that they vote later on.”

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