Voting lacks direct impact


By Luke Vest

When I was a high school student taking Advanced Placement United States Government and Politics, I cringed at the shockingly low percentage of eligible voters who choose to vote in America, which hovered around 60 percent in 2012 when I was still in high school. Last week during midterm elections, that number dropped to less than half. 

I always thought that when the time came for me to vote, I would gladly and willingly do it to fulfill my duty as an active citizen.

Now that I am eligible to vote, I have realized that I was wrong. I did vote last Tuesday, but only at the urging of my parents, and when filling out the ballot, I was embarrassed to find that I recognized the names of only a few candidates. 

I did not bother to educate myself on the election, because I did not care enough to do so. My feelings stem from the fact that I have never really felt the lasting impacts of change in policy.

There are many reasons people don’t take the voting process (which includes educating themselves and going to the polls) as seriously as they should. I’ve found that this is especially true for some college students. I believe the chief reason for this, which applies to many others and myself, is that we don’t always feel direct impacts from changes in government policy. 

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    Most college students go about their days studying and having fun. As I go through my day, I hear little to nothing about politics, so when an election comes up, I would have to do research on my own time to educate myself on political candidates and their views.

    For me, personally, this is time that could be better spent studying. If I study, I’ll get better grades. I’ve seen these results. If I vote (or if I don’t), my life doesn’t seem to immediately change. My life has never changed dramatically after an election, and it didn’t change this time either. 

    I neglected to educate myself on this election, because I did not think it would affect my life in any way.

    Studying helps one perform well in a class and receive good grades, which are encouraged for applying for jobs and graduate school. Voting, to me, does not seem to provide these immediate, direct, positive changes. It does have the ability to instill long-term change, but I do not see or feel these changes either.

    To me, voters in the workforce seem more affected by change in governmental policy. They may feel the direct effect of taxes on income, so they may also feel more inclined to become informed about candidates and vote to create a better life for themselves, as opposed to many full-time college students who may not yet have to worry about maintaining a steady income. 

    I think young people might tend to vote less because they are sheltered from the burdens of government because many are taken care of by their parents.  

    To get people to vote, they must feel the need to vote. Why do students feel a need to study, for example? They do so to improve their immediate lives. 

    I believe the issue is that college students are aware of the importance of voting, but some, like myself, don’t see the negative ramifications of not doing so. They might not feel obliged to vote, because they do not lose any immediate rights or privileges by choosing to not vote. Maybe students might feel much more obliged to vote if all of their freedoms were immediately being taken away in a dictatorship, which, fortunately, is not the case. 

    I do not believe that I will be paying close enough attention to political races for a few years, because outcomes of elections do not seem to impact my daily routines. For now, I have to worry about getting good grades and doing things that will have a seemingly closer impact on my life. 

    Luke is a freshman in Engineering. He can be reached at [email protected].