Does your vote actually matter?


Philip Zoppi – General Assignment Reporter

Your political vote should mean something to you. Some young people don’t take the time to vote, but they should.

According to census.gov, people ages 18 through 24 have consistently voted at a lower rate than any other age group in America.

Jonathan Wharton, a political science professor at Southern, has a theory as to why young people are not getting involved in voting.

“I think the disinterest stems from young people generally being disconnected from the issues,” said Wharton. “The older that you get, the more interested you’re going to get. Unless you actually have kids or own property, it’s not going to really matter to that individual enough.”

Even though most college students and younger people don’t have kids or property to worry about, their vote can still make a huge difference.

Another interesting fact that census.gov pointed out is that people ages 65 years or older are typically the ones who vote the most.

Kevin Buterbaugh, a professor and department chair of international political economy at Southern, thinks this is a huge advantage for older people.

“People over the age of 65 vote at very high rates and that’s one of the reasons you have really good social programs for people over 65,” said Buterbaugh.

Younger people aren’t going to get what they want until they start voting. Older people are dominating the votes and are controlling the ability to choose.

Brian Ahern, a sophomore at Southern, is of the legal voting age and has yet to exercise his right. He does want to start getting more involved and thinks young people should be voting more.

“I’m not registered to vote,” said Ahern. “I think [voting] a good thing to participate in. It’s definitely not a thing you want to pass up. I think the primary is going to get more young people to come out and vote.”

Many other Americans take the same path that Ahern has. According to demos.org, in 2012 there was an estimated 51 million eligible Americans that still had not registered to vote.

Many of these Americans are younger people who had just became eligible to vote. Buterbaugh thinks that students could make a massive impact if they decided to vote.

“The fact that students don’t vote hurts them,” said Buterbaugh. “If students voted in larger numbers they could have huge effects on political outcomes. So, in that sense, their vote does matter.”

Students tend to frequently complain about high tuition and lack of financial aid. If they went to vote, they could help change some of these prices, making it more affordable to attend higher education institutions.

Political leaders usually do not advertise or pay much attention to the younger class of citizens because they know that most of them probably will not vote. Younger people need to rethink their decisions to not vote.

Wharton agrees with Buterbaugh about students hurting themselves by not voting. However, Wharton does not see students getting more active in voting.

“I’ve seen this for years,” said Wharton referring to students not voting. “I think there’s this dependence on social media to solve all the problems instead of paying attention to actual media sources.”

If you have not registered to vote yet, you should. You can make a real impact in the polls and help change the United States into a place that’s better for everybody, especially the younger generation.

Photo Credit: jamelah e.

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