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Many people say they don’t have the means, the knowledge or the the faith in our political system necessary to cast a vote. And the lack of political participation doesn’t stop there.
The United States takes pride in allowing every single U.S. born citizen the right to vote as soon as each individual American turns 18. While many Americans view this as a right that should be utilized at every presidential election, a large chunk of U.S. citizens beg to differ and have their own qualms during each new voting season.
Elections for many states took place last week, yet many students, including freshman Molly Pelosi, said they did not participate (check out our poll on page 7).
“I didn’t really know enough about the candidates so I didn’t think it’d be fair for me to vote,” Pelosi said. “I didn’t really know what I was talking about.”
But Pelosi is not alone. Young Americans made up only 13 percent of the voters during last Tuesday’s election, according to The Guardian.
Similarly, 76 percent of Americans said they don’t feel intelligent enough about the subject matter or the candidates to make an educated decision, according to the Pew Research Center.
But low voter turnout isn’t a new trend and nor is it prevalent in just young people. Around 64 percent of Americans who were old enough to vote actually voted in the 2008 presidential election, according to the U.S. Census. This still leaves 36 percent of the population in the dust and a large percent of the population not contributing to the political system at all.
The United States seems to have an epidemic of indifference when upcoming elections approach, even for presidential elections. For example, there were 15 million people who were registered for the 2008 election, but didn’t vote. Among those 15 million, 26.4 percent stated they were either not interested in the campaign or they did not like the candidates, according to the Washington Post.
Another large percentage of those surveyed—around 17.6 percent—said they were “too busy” to vote. Millions of people aren’t voting because, to a certain extent, they feel apathetic about it. And as it turns out, many people feel like their vote doesn’t make a difference, according to the Pew Research Center.
Connecticut resident freshman Robert Cantafio said although he’s still not old enough to vote yet, he acknowledges it can be a hassle, especially for out-of-state students.
“I think it’s harder for some kids cause they have to get the absentee ballot but I mean I would still try and go vote if I didn’t live [on campus],” Cantafio said.
In a CNN article, one man said he lived in a state where he felt his vote didn’t matter due to the Electoral College. Others admitted they simply did not want to vote in a two-party system, revealing a general distrust in the government.
The Pew Research Center showed only 35 to 40 percent of people who rarely vote said they felt most people could be trusted. This means 60 to 65 percent do not trust others easily, which may signal that a belief in corruption might be what’s turning voters off when it comes to election time.
The Pew Research Center, CNN, the U.S. Census and the Washington Post all shared similar findings. Most people did not vote either because they didn’t feel like they knew enough about the election or because they really didn’t care enough about it.
Pelosi felt this way too. As a Rhode Island resident, Pelosi was not surrounded by the election nearly as much as she would have been if she was living at home, instead of on campus, she said.
“I think because I didn’t hear any of the commercials or read any of the newspapers, I didn’t really know much about the candidates,” Pelosi said.