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Voting turnout is vital in the process of electing our future president and is essential to any democratic system. It is one of the most important rights, responsibilities and privileges of active citizenship. In the United States, particularly among college students, voter turnout has been less than satisfactory. The upcoming election will be the first opportunity for many students to vote, which could change the less-than-stellar results of the past.
Concerned about the lack of political activism and voting turnout by the CU student body, we, a group of four students also known as Buffs4Politics, conducted a survey to gain further insight about CU voting habits and set out to encourage our peers to involve themselves in politics.
Out of the 91 students surveyed, 86 percent of the respondents placed themselves in the ethnic group of white, and 82 percent of the respondents were between the ages of 19 and 21. With such a young demographic, it is no surprise that 62 percent claimed they have never voted in a presidential election, because most of them were too young to vote in the 2008 election.
Based on preliminary research data, we predicted that the number of students registered to vote on campus will be below 50 percent. In addition, we predicted that voters would feel that their votes are not influential, thus not having a strong interest in the upcoming elections.
To our surprise, 64 percent of respondents say they are currently registered to vote in 2012. However, 6 percent of respondents say that voting is not important to them at all and 26 percent said it was somewhat important to them. As predicted, 48 percent of respondents believed that their individual votes and involvement would not make a difference in turnout of the election.
Another problematic trend we found among students was that 41 percent said that they are only “somewhat informed” about the current presidential candidates. This raised a red flag about some serious flaws in our nation’s political system.
While the lack of participation from young citizens is important, the more serious issue for our campus is the large amount of uninformed voters. CU is a public educational institution; therefore, the university needs to provide more unbiased, educational opportunities for students to learn about the political candidates in order to make an informed voting decision. If this information becomes available to students, then we believe the number of young voters will steadily increase.
Students are an extremely important part of the voting demographic, because they are the future of this country. Current and former students will comprise the core of U.S. voters in the years to come, because educated people are more likely to participate in elections. As President Obama stated during his recent speech here at CU, “we want to be investing in the things that build America in the long term.” The future of our country will one day be in the hands of our generation, if it is not already.
The voters as a whole hold the power to make a difference in our country and, like a domino effect, on the world. We reached out to Deb Coffin, the vice chancellor of student affairs, via email to ask for her opinion about the importance of voting.
“The right to vote is a privilege, not a burden, but it is a right that some have struggled and even died for. Specifically, I am referring to women’s struggle to win the vote (finally realized not until 1920), and to continuing efforts to ensure that all eligible citizens, regardless of their race or socioeconomic status, can exercise this right without having to overcome barriers that some would still put in their way. We should never forget the previous sacrifices for this important right and responsibility.”
Everyone has grown up hearing the old saying “every vote counts,” but it seems to have lost its meaning within our generation. President Obama stated in his speech last Tuesday at CU that “each generation has more opportunity than the last.” Utilizing your right to vote is something that we as Americans should view not only as an obligation, but as a privilege.
So exercise your right and take advantage of your privilege — we’ll CU at the polls.
Written by CU Independent writer Mandi Meek in collaboration with CU students Adam Cribari, Matt English and Mindi Coleman. Contact Buffs4Politics at Buffs4Politics@gmail.com.