By JONATHAN GIBSON, Ranger Reporter:
Disengaged, disillusioned, disinterested and sometimes even disgusted, many millennials say the 2016 presidential election is prompting them to avoid the polls.
A large percentage of voters, ages 18-24, report they are choosing not to vote.
Because many perceive they have no stake in fiscal or political matters, students say they are alienated by the political process.
“I don’t really care enough to vote,” Ryan Cotten, a mass media major, said.
Brian Farmer, a government professor, said he is not surprised that millennials are disinterested in the election.
“Younger people don’t have much of a say in what goes on in government and politics, as far as not owning businesses, not being married with children,” said Farmer. “There’s a lot of issues that come up as you get older that make you feel like it’s more important to deal with those things.”
Along with platforms that are of no interest to young people, come a myriad of excuses not to vote. Life simply can get in the way of not making it to the polls. “They’re working and studying, so there’s the time factor. They’re busy,” said Farmer.
Celeste Stork, a business major, said she might vote if she finds the time. “If I get around to it I’ll vote. I’m really not sure,” she said.
Engineering major Jonathan Becerra said he never got around to registering to vote, even though he thinks voting is important. “I don’t have time.”
Another reason students avoid the polls is their negative attitudes about politics. Although voting isn’t a high priority for many students, Farmer believes they can and should make change happen.
“Costs of college have gone up, up, up, and part of it is that the states don’t want to spend the money. So, if you’re a college student, I think you should be voting for the party that favors more money in education. I’m amazed at people’s inability to vote their own interest,” Farmer said.
Clarissa Clifford, a biology major, said, “You’re choosing between a crook and a bigot.”
Some students said they feel uncomfortable voting for what they call the “lesser of two evils.”
“I don’t plan on voting because I only see a lose-lose scenario between both candidates,” said Stetson Smith, mass a media major.
“Sadly, I do not see any positive outcome and find this election a chaotic popularity contest between what some are trying to justify as one side being less evil and ignorant than the other,” Stetson said.
Unlike his peers, Colton Nomelli, an education major, said he plans on voting. “I definitely think it’s important. I think it’s ignorant when people say it’s not important to vote – how do you expect things to change to the way you want it if you’re not going to do anything about it?”
Barbra Walker, a mass media major, called students who don’t vote “lazy.”
“For a lot of us, it’s our first presidential election to vote and we have a chance to make a difference,” Walker said.
“We’re going to have to be dealing with this person for the next four years, so a lot is going to happen in our lives,” said Megan Ferguson, a biology major. “It’s going to affect us more and more as time goes on.”
Larry Adams, a government professor, agreed, stressing the need for young people to head to the polls. “I think it would be critical for them to vote. Today that demographic is such a large proportion of the voting population, and they could actually have a large effect on the outcome of the election.”
“Students are disillusioned and don’t believe that the process is going to do anything good for either the country as a whole or for them in particular, but you do have a voice, and your voice counts,” Adams said.
Adams also said that many young people do not realize they have significant political power. “If enough students voted, it could change the outcome of the election, and I don’t think students believe that. A lot of people think, ‘My vote doesn’t count.’”
“What they need to do is look at the overall picture and get out and vote,” Adams said.