Are Young Voters Letting Bernie Sanders Down?


Melissa Nunez – General Assignment Reporter

Increased support for Bernie Sanders on social media does not match the polls because college age students would rather seek online gratification versus actually taking action by going out and voting, said Melissa Pendergast, senior history major.

“I think it is easier for them online to say they support an opinion but when it actually comes down to getting up and moving, they do not follow through with their actions,” said Pendergast. “It is very easy to click a button and say, ‘Yes, I support this,’ it is a lot easier and we are such a generation where traditional college students, they have grown up with the technology so much at their fingertips and it is very easy for them to just click a button.”

Pendergast said she finds the trend “mind-boggling” and is something that has personally troubled her, but would hope students realize that, while in the larger sense one vote does not seem like a lot, with enough of those votes, change does happen and they should be encouraged to participate in that. Even if it does not go their way, they can least say they voiced their opinion.

Caitlin Schwind, senior public health major, said, overall there are many obstacles that can inhibit youths, as well as any citizen from voting, such as lack of transportation or regular, daily responsibilities like work or school.

“If you do not have a car, or if your car is in the shop, it is hard to get there,” said Schwind. “Plus election day for the primaries, it is not a federal holiday, so a lot of people usually have to work.”

The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement determined in 2010 that 34.7 percent of college students 18 to 24 could not vote because they had a conflicting work schedule or they were too busy. Similarly, 30 percent of 18 to 24 year olds not in college said work and other responsibilities stopped them from voting as well.

Isabella Negron, sophomore psychology major, said Sanders supporters may just be restricted entirely from participating in the primaries if they are registered as independent in states like Connecticut or New York.

“A lot of people are registered as independent and they do not want to be either Republican or Democrat and when it comes time to vote, not a lot of people changed their status in time,” said Negron. “I feel like the majority of Bernie Sanders supporters are independent and they are not able to vote in the primaries.”

An April 2016 poll from the Washington Post indicated that about 30 percent of Sanders total support is rooted from independent voters.

As an independent voter herself, Negron said she stands by her party of choice, but is not content with her exclusion from the primaries.

“I do not feel like I should be limited to just the Republicans or just the Democrats,” said Negron. “I like having my own choice in who I want to vote for. It is actually pretty nerve-wracking to see the candidates that people are actually choosing over someone who I actually think would be a good fit.”

Negron said if she had the chance to participate in the primaries, she would have voted for Sanders, because he supports students in public colleges, he is pro-choice, he supports universal health care. She added that she believes if independent voters were encouraged to participate in primaries, it would boost more people to vote overall.

Photo Credit: Melissa Nunez – General Assignment Reporter

PHOTO: Student, Melissa Pendergast

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