With the upcoming November presidential election, politics has once again been pushed into the national spotlight. Utilizing their standard tactics, candidates have begun shaking hands, engaging in photo ops and kissing babies in an effort to secure votes.
And the next step is to reach out to the youth demographic. Campuses have been flooded with voter registration forms. And although the various Rock the Vote organizations are geared to incite interest, the end result has been a mixed bag.
I feel it’s biased and it really doesn’t count,” sophomore Danya Lewis said. “I hate it.”
The Rock the Vote campaign has made little progress in changing her decision. She has no intention of casting a ballot.
“I’m not fond of politics at all,” she said.
And the whole political machine idea has left Lewis with no incentive to change her mind. Her apathy is a common feeling among her peers.
A volunteer for the Howard Dean campaign responded to this wariness. Believing in the possibility of making an impact, she argued against the apathy, saying that “In 10 years, you’re going to be in your 30s and wishing you would’ve gotten involved.”
“I’m not really into a real candidate,” junior Morc English said, who voiced a common complaint. The African-American Studies major rejected the current contenders for the presidency, claiming the assortment of issues from health care to education wasn’t enough. Judging by how many election promises have been broken in the past, English has little faith that the latest promises will be fulfilled.
“African people need a candidate that cares about the community,” English stressed. His claim stems from how the black populace is ignored as viable constituents worth courting or maintaining promises to. His participation in this election is questionable.
To counter this indifference, groups trying to raise political activity and awareness are adopting unorthodox practices. Making the rounds at clubs and concerts, they believe interacting with the on the fence voter on their turf can make the difference.
“Youth issues are no different from other issues being talked about,” said Erin Wilson, a political science and history major at the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently working as an activist to get people to vote. Starting with the official Rock the Vote incentive two years ago, she continues to encourage political participation. She considers the controversial 2000 election as an example of how every vote counts.
“Even if you don’t think your vote is being heard, the fact that you’re able to vote shows that it can,” said junior and public relations major Jessica Carter.
Carter has been involved with politics since her mother became a campaign manager when she was young.
Registered Democrat Kimberlee Pressley shared her enthusiasm in being part of the electoral process. “I think it’s important to get involved. If you’re a member of this society, you can’t complain about things not happening. I’m excited to vote,” she said.
The focus of Wilson’s agenda may be to rally the lethargic and uninterested, but it is more than just a job to her. Getting out the vote is essential and should be taken seriously. After participating in a special election held in Kentucky recently, Erin witnessed how close some calls are and the impact a few votes can make.
“I don’t believe in voting for the sheer purpose of voting. We need an informed electorate,” she said.
Steph Guerilus can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org