By Kathryn Flippin
More than a quarter of all college students reported in 2010 that they did not register to vote because they did not know where or how to register or they missed the deadline, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement for the Campus Vote Project.
Despite widespread reports of overwhelming youth engagement in the 2008 election, young voters made up only about 19 percent of the electorate, the project reported.
Many Unionites have taken the initiative to convince students to take advantage of absentee voting. Hannah King, sophomore public relations major, created a logo and handed out flyers supporting the canivote.org movement.
Canivote.org is a nonpartisan website created by state election officials to help eligible voters figure out how and where to vote.
“I not only wanted to get people to vote, but I wanted to make it clear that the process was not complicated,” King said. “I know we have many people who are from places like Maine and many out-of-state students, so I wanted them to know they can still participate.”
Canivote.org allows a person to select his state and then explains all the necessary steps to be able to vote. These steps include registering by contacting the municipal clerk of one’s town or city. Many states even allow absentee votes to be submitted electronically.
“The decisions being made now will affect not only our generation but the generations after us,” King said. “It is important to learn that now and realize that if we do not participate in voting now, there is a big chance we will not in the future.”
Dr. Hunter Baker, associate professor of political science and acting dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, alludes to futuristic thinking in his new book, “Political Thought: A Student’s Guide.”
In his book, Baker relates politics to family, and when asked about how he thinks the past relates to the future, he said they all are closely related.
“I look at how my wife grew up, with the boundaries and guidelines set by her parents, and then I look at how free I was in my own home,” Baker said. “It was not because my parents were not believers but because they chose to let me use my freedom in a different way.”
He said this example of family differences is one way a person can relate to politics — because America is set up similarly.
“We are a democracy, therefore, we are the people making the decisions — we have been given that freedom,” Baker said. “Why would you not want to participate and be a part of setting the standards for society?”
Baker also said many Christians feel that as long as they obey the law of the land, then they are doing their duty. What he wants young voters to realize, however, is that because of the way America is set up, voters have the freedom to choose, so the command to obey is for them to participate.
While many see the political realm as complicated, Baker brings it down to simple terms by relating it to the popular television series, “Lost.”
“If you look at the characters in this series, you see the turmoil they face and the decisions they are forced to make to survive,” Baker said. “Our country is built just like this: people making decisions based upon what is necessary.”
Baker encourages students to realize their voice in this election and understand that politics is not separate from their everyday lives.
King also said she knows this election will determine many decisions being made about future jobs and the economic stability of America.
She said she hopes students realize they have a say in how these outcomes will occur, and she said she hopes students will take the opportunity to look into these resources for young voters.