Student votes are important in determining results of midterm elections

Jesse Szweda, Columnist

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Jesse Szweda

I’m going to do something a little bit unusual for the opinion section and share a personal secret. Ready to hear it? I did not vote in the 2016 presidential election.

Scandalous, I know. But to be fair, I was far from the only one. In fact, research has shown that young people tend to vote less when compared to the older portion of the population. In this regard, I guess you could say I was a typical college student.

But it is precisely this lack of political involvement on the part of college students that prevents important progress from being made. And though there are many factors that contribute to low voter turnout among college students, it is essential that we break the current trend and show up to vote in the midterm elections this November.

There are lots of reasons why college students tend not to vote as much as other demographics, and one of the biggest reasons is their lack of knowledge about politics.

UW Oshkosh senior Megan Olson said a lack of education about relevant issues makes some college students hesitant to vote.

“People don’t feel educated enough to make a decision,” Olson said. “I feel like I haven’t been able to vote because I don’t know enough to give an educated input.”

Not knowing a lot about politics, of course, is going to make someone less likely to vote. That being said, the internet has made learning about political issues easier than ever before. Access to accurate, unbiased information is only a click away if you’re willing to look for it.

But even with this unprecedented access to information, it would be inaccurate to say that nothing stands in the way of college students becoming more involved in elections. Many students on campus have strong opinions about how these barriers affect students.

UWO sophomore Emily Miller said politicians often neglect college students in their campaigns, leading many students to question whether the issues really matter to them.

“Not enough campaigns are coming to campuses and talking to the college students,” Miller said. “They like to talk about how they’re trying to help the UW System, but they’re not coming and visiting us and telling us their plans. They’re not really including us in politics, so I think that’s the biggest factor and why young people aren’t interested in voting.”

UWO junior Alicia Obermeier said the outdated nature of the voting process dissuades a more tech-savvy generation from participating.

“For me I think it’s about lack of [accessibility] and how it’s very outdated,” Obermeier said. “So I think that it has to do with the lack of technology in the whole voting process.”

UWO senior Aaron Wojciechowski said that inconvenient voting hours negatively affect financially struggling students.

“We’re voting on a Tuesday, and granted the polls are open basically all day,” Wojciechowiski said. “But you have classes, you have work, you have things to do, and sure, you can leave work, but for college students who can’t afford anything, missing two hours of work is a lot to them. So doing it during the day of the week is not great.”

Obstacles like these can and do keep a lot of college students from voting, and it’s not necessarily hard to see why. The cost is that our unique perspective on important issues is lost in the process. Alhough exploring ways to make voting easier for college students is important, it does not absolve us from our responsibility to participate in the political process.

The fact of the matter is that we have a midterm election coming. Given the state of our country at the moment, this election will arguably be one of the most important ones in American history. So I implore you, students of UWO, to do whatever it takes to get your vote in on Nov. 6. The future of the country we all call home depends on it.