by Griffin Rasche
Posted on Oct 18, 2016
With just a few short weeks until the polls open for the 2016 Presidential Election, voter registration is a key issue on people’s mind.
Young adult voters have historically had the lowest turnout percentages, even though they could make up one of the largest voting demographics. According to an analysis of U.S. census data from the Pew Research Center, millennials make up about 31 percent of the overall electoral.
For many Ambrosians, this is the first election in which they are eligible to vote in. The issues currently facing the U.S. are as important as ever, ranging from health care to immigration Laws. As a basic right as citizens of a democratic country, it’s important for college students to be a part of the conversation so they don’t inherit a country whose policies don’t reflect them.
Alexsandra Najda, President of the St. Ambrose University Democrats Club, said that it’s pertinent for college students to be aware of issues when choosing a candidate.
“College students must understand that every decision that is made in Washington will eventually affect them,” Najda said. “So I think that college students must learn about all the issues. Most importantly, I think we must focus on employment, global warming and inner city violence. Those are the three that I believe will affect our generation most domestically.”
In conjunction to being aware of the issues, Kody Kilburg, President of the St. Ambrose Republicans Club, said that college students should be aware of these issues in particular: federal loan interest rates, government taxes and regulations and the Affordable Care Act.
“Assuming other college students are like myself, and they are graduating with debt, I would hope other students besides myself would not be okay with the government taking even more money out of their paychecks,” Kilburg said. “As a senior this year, it is extremely important to me that I graduate with a job. Issues that can make the job search harder for a college student is whether or not the government wishes to raise taxes, regulations, or continue the small-business killing healthcare law. Small-business owners cannot afford to offer certain benefits and coverage to some of their full-time employees, so the business are forced to reduce their current and new employees to part-time positions.”
The U.S. Census Bureau’s voting data also shows that, on average, less than half of eligible young adult voters will actually make it to the polls for a national presidential election. Moreover, the millennial generation is not only the largest generation, but the most diverse in the U.S. population. With growing diversity, there is a necessity to elect leaders who represent the desires of their constituency. Both SAU political clubs agree that by choosing not to vote, college students are inexcusably silencing themselves.
Najda said that she thinks many students come to college with perspectives that are highly influenced by their homes and communities.
“College is an atmosphere that will often challenge, question and alter people’s opinions,” Najda said. “I think this is beneficial to society for two reasons: either your perspectives are challenged and they change for the better or they are challenged and are strengthened by the necessity to defend them. In both cases, your values become your own.”
The deadline to register to vote in Iowa is October 29. To be a more informed voter by the time you enter that voting booth, Kilburg said to join the political clubs on campus.
“I know both clubs are open to everyone who is willing to learn and wants to get involved,” Kilburg said. Too many people just believe the last thing they hear or the last thing they read on social media without even thinking about researching the topic to figure out whether the statistic or fact is true or not. Parental political views also have an undoubtedly immense impact on a person’s own political beliefs. I am not saying that is necessarily a bad thing, but I will say that it is important to do your own research and not just rely on what other people tell you, even if it is your parents.”
Soon many students will be looking for jobs, renting and buying homes and making many more serious decisions that are all affected by policy. Najda said that many politicians claim to be the voice of the millennials. However, when they make decisions in Washington, their policies often contradict this claim.
“It is crucial that millennials finally hold those who claim to be our advocates to their word and this election is our chance to do this,” Najda said.
“If you do not vote or get involved on some level or another, then I firmly believe you should not complain when things do not go your way in terms of the election,” Kilburg said. “Your vote is your voice, make it known.”