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Politics and Partisan Attacks Keep Young Voters From Polls

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This year’s midterm election was marked by Republican gains in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. The United States officially will head back towards divided government in 2011 with the Democrats controlling the White House and Republicans holding the legislature. This year was also marked however by low voter turnout in the youth demographic of 18 to 29 year olds. Analysis of exit poll statistics and voter turnout numbers revealed less than 50 percent of Americans voted in this election. Traditionally, the American electorate is apathetic when it comes to voting in off-year elections especially when compared to foreign countries. However what remains intriguing about the election results from this year is the sharp decline in the number of young people casting their ballots and allowing their voices to be heard. The 2008 presidential election was memorable in its ability to mobilize the youth vote. As a result, the democratic ticket received nearly 70 percent of the youth vote paving the way for an Obama White House. This year with only about one in every five young people actually voting the question has been asked if young people are losing faith in the political process?  

The UCF Arena Served as a polling place for UCF students on campus

At the University of Central Florida student organizations such as the College Democrats and Republicans attempt to engage Central Florida students in politics. The College Democrats registered almost 2,500 people to vote in the weeks and months leading up to the November 2nd midterm. The University of Central Florida saw visits from former president Bill Clinton, Democratic Senate Candidate Kendrick Meek, Attorney General Candidate Dan Gelber, and Florida’s Democratic candidate for Governor Alex Sink. According to the Vice President of the College Democrats at UCF Roberto Berrios, his organization did a lot of good work but it still wasn’t enough. When asked why young people aren’t voting in high numbers, Berrios responded by saying “its a mystery” and that many young people aren’t naturally interested in politics but need to be because of the issues that affect them.  

The UCF Student Union is home to College Dems and Republicans Every Week

At Tufts University in Massachusetts, a center for research in civic participation called CIRCLE conducted a post election study. The analysis concluded that many voter outreach programs were successful at getting young people to the polls on select campuses in Florida, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. However a big reason for the low voter turnout in the 18 to 29 demographic was the negative tone of campaigns across the country. Many young people have lost interest in politics because issues that are important to them are being overtaken by partisan attacks on the campaign trail. These issues included College Tuition rates, Unemployment rates, and even climate change.

CIRCLE also noted a lack of innovation on the part of the Democrats cost them key youth votes this year. The 2008 election saw increased enthusiasm from young people who were key volunteers in campaigns in many instances. This time around there wasn’t as much of a willingness to involve young voters as volunteers. Young people may not have lost all faith in politics however they do feel their voices aren’t nearly as loud.

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Written by ArthurVolpe

November 20, 2010 at 6:42 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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