Opinion: It is irresponsible for ASU students to not vote in the midterms

With overall low voter turnouts for the midterms, it's important for college students to vote

The 2018 midterms are less than a month away. While voter registration has closed in Arizona, the efforts to encourage voting should not stop. 

College-age students have historically had a significantly lower voter turnout rate than older generations.

Considering this, it is irresponsible for ASU students to not vote. 

College campuses have long been seen as centers of free speech and protest. However, as Farah Stockman wrote in a New York Times article, “abysmally low turnout among young people has long been a hallmark of American elections, particularly in midterm years. Data suggests that only 18 percent voted in 2014, compared with about 37 percent in the overall population.” 

The Institute for Democracy & Higher Education's 2017 Report on U.S. College and University Student Voting found that, “Those over age 50, for example, were much more likely to vote in 2016 than those 18 to 21 years old (75.4 percent versus 44.8 percent).” 

However, the report also found that voter registration has gone up among college students. This is an important note, but just registering isn’t enough. ASU students need to cast their ballots.

Many college students do not actually vote, especially in the midterms. This could be a result of a number of things, including going to school out of state (and not being registered for an absentee ballot), not knowing where to vote in person or simply being too busy to make it to the polls on election day. 

Students can no longer use the claim that their vote doesn't matter as an excuse to not vote in an election. 

Miki Kittilson, a political science professor at ASU, said “it is even more important for people to vote in midterms, because less people vote (in the midterms) overall.” 

If college students came out to vote in higher numbers, regardless of who won the elections, the policies and issues that young people care about will be put into place. 

Kittilson said that even though college students don’t vote at the same rates as older generations, they tend to participate in other ways. 

Young people speak out on social media, volunteer their time and money to causes they care about and sign petitions because often times young people feel like these outlets are more productive than voting.

While all of these other ways of participating are important and each carry their own effects on the country, casting a ballot helps to protect our democracy. 

Doing this “puts policy changes into place,” according to Kittilson, when politicians know that young people are actively voting. 

The policies that will be put into place by the politicians who students help to elect may potentially affect them for longer than older generations of voters. It is time to take responsibility for the country and make sure the voices of college students are heard. 

Students can click here to find their nearest polling place to vote on Nov. 6. 

 Reach the reporter at cfusillo@asu.edu or follow @katiefusillo on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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