2014 being a state election year, Michigan residents will be asked to elect candidates for the Michigan House of Representatives, Senate and, perhaps most importantly, state governor. However, out of the over three million Michiganders expected to vote in the November 4th election, young adults will be the least represented group.
“As a Political Scientist and a product of the Watergate era, it really disturbs me when I hear students say that they don’t want to vote,” said Christine Bailey, a professor of political science. “The age demographic of 18 to 24 year-olds is the lowest represented voting population in America, and yet it’s their futures that are at stake. Such things as student loan interest rates. Should we follow the direction of many countries around the world in providing free tuition to students? We could have that here if there was enough political activity on the part of students.”
Although the statistics showed that college aged students are the least likely to vote, not all students planned to go unrepresented.
“State elections are more important in a lot of ways than federal, because they affect us more directly,” Isaac Wilson, junior english education major said. “There are a lot of important issues coming up in this election.”
Rick Snyder, Republican candidate and incumbent governor since 2011, is running for re-election this year. His Democratic counterpart is Mark Schauer, who has previously served in the state House and Senate. The opponents’ respective websites can be found at www.rickformichigan.com and www.markschauer.com.
“It’s a tight race,” said Baily. “There has been a lot of mudslinging on both sides and a lot of influence on outside financial sources who are not Michigan-based sources. To get more information on the elections, I recommend that students go to the League of Women Voters of Michigan site, which is www.lwvmi.org. The League of Women Voters here in the state has put together information not just about the state candidates and the congressional candidates, but also information on some of the local races. Don’t pay attention to what the major media says, think for yourself. Make your decision based upon your values. I don’t just want you to vote. I want you to participate.”
Because college students and young adults as a whole are not involved in politics, the issues that are important to them are not receiving the attention of the candidates and thus the college age/young adult constituents go unrepresented.
“We’ve heard for the past 30 years that tuition is becoming too high,” said Richard Hewer, Steering Committee member of the Political Engagement Project (PEP) and Associate Professor of Accountancy, Finance and Information Systems. “That’s because the amount of state tuition paid by the government has continually decreased.”
Garion Adams, junior Applied Math Computer Science major, echoed this sentiment.
“I think it’s definitely important [to vote], because, for the most part, teenagers don’t get involved in politics, so our voices aren’t heard,” Adams said.
So if people agree all around that it’s important for young adults to take interest in politics, how come so few of them are actually voting? Well, many believe that their votes don’t matter.
“Because of gerrymandering, individual votes are robbed of their power, so while it’s important for everyone to vote, individual votes aren’t as important,” explained Paul Darnton, senior English major.
“Young people are just hardened, are just wounded by candidates,” said Hewer. “They usually think it doesn’t matter. People are feeling insignificant; they don’t really have a say.” Hewer also believes that many young adult voters may feel they have been let down in the past by politicians who have gained their support.
“Go vote!” said Bailey, “November 4th, be there! Polls open at 7am and close at 8.” Voters can find their polling location as well as information on what will be on their ballot by visiting www.vote.michigan.gov/mvic.