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Young voters: Apathetic or uninformed?

Guest Reporters

Published: Monday, October 22, 2012

Updated: Monday, October 22, 2012 01:10

Following a Writing for Media assignment, three finalists were submitted to The Scribe. The Scribe Editorial Board selected the winning article for publication.

     Following the first presidential debates, political awareness has increased among young people. But is that enough incentive for them to go vote?

     A Gallup poll released in mid-July revealed that fewer young people plan to vote next month than they did in 2008, which saw fewer young people planning to vote than in 2004. Faculty and staff members at UCCS claim that this is due to confusion among young potential voters.

     David Hardee, an assistant in the Columbine Hall computer lab and a first-year graduate student, said that young voters are not willing to use their ability to vote.

     “They are confused. They would rather not vote than make an uninformed vote,” he said, also noting that young people won’t do the research.

     Others have a different perspective.

     “I don’t think young people plan to vote, but [they] will vote,” said Margie Oldham, director of community relations and director of the National Student Exchange Program.

     “I don’t think it’s reckless at all; it’s a way of processing things,” she said. “You’re more likely to change your mind because you’re more open.”

     Oldham went on to say that it was not a flippant decision, just a different process for young voters. According to Oldham, for people who don’t vote, that’s their right; just as there is the right to vote, there is the right to not vote.

     “Young people feel disempowered because everyone tells a different story,” said June Loterbauer, a writing instructor in the English department. “Young people don't follow politics, so [from their perspective] it's better not to vote.”

     “When Obama ran [in 2008], I feel he really spoke to the young people,” Loterbauer said. “There was not a lot of depth in his speeches and campaigns.”

     Regarding the young vote, UCCS faculty turned to the experience of their own children and grandchildren rather than students.

     “My experience is with my own young children,” said Tim Callahan, a curriculum author and instructor. “My children and their friends know who they're voting for.”

     Conversely, Susan Finger, another writing instructor, said, “My kids seem more apathetic. I can't speak for my students.”

     The other Gallup poll regarded reactions to the presidential debate in the beginning of October, wherein the results revealed increased support for Romney.

     David Fenell, a professor in the College of Education, said, “I don't like polls.” He explained himself with the reasoning that people decide not to vote because of poll indications.

     “Obama is more of an average president now,” Susan Finger said. “It's not his fault the world's a mess; he's done a good job with what he's been given.”

     Loterbauer commented on Obama's first debate performance: “Was he ill? Having a bad day? Was his mind on something else? He was distracted, and that was why Romney looked better.”

     Callahan also spoke up about the debate, saying that Romney was projected as being “out of touch” prior to the debate and appeared more approachable following the debate. “Romney's approachability appeals to all voters, not just the young,” Callahan said. “He's making centrist moves.”

     In addition to the Gallup poll, UCCS faculty discussed the main issues surrounding the election.

     “The economy is the issue [this year],” Fenell said. “Obama wants government control, which we saw in his bailout of the auto industry, and in my mind, we, the private sector, are the economy. If you want a job, you'll reconsider voting for Obama.”

     Fenell said that the people's disappointment in Obama's performance thus far is comparable to pastors. “I feel sorry for pastors,” he said, “because people expect something.” And when the pastor – or in this case, president – can't fulfill the expectations set for them, people are less interested in supporting them.

     “There wouldn't be much need for politicians if there were no problems,” Loterbauer said. “Except sometimes the politicians are the problem.”

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