Examining Voting Culture at WC

By Brooke Schultz
Senior Writer
With the impending presidential election, many young voters at Washington College will be able to voice their political opinions for the first time.
For many college students this is their first opportunity to vote in a presidential election. For those who aren’t completely immersed in politics, they may not understand the process.
Before the election, candidates go through a series of debates in conjunction with state primaries and caucuses. These events help show the candidates’ views on issues.
Voting in the primaries is an important step on getting the nominee that voters want. Maryland and Delaware have primaries on April 26, and New Jersey’s is June 7, but other states have already had theirs. A list of upcoming primaries and caucuses can be found on USpresidentialelectionnews.com.

As the presidential election draws closer, the topic of young people voting is constantly coming up in conversation. Many students on campus believe voting is essential.
As the presidential election draws closer, the topic of young people voting is constantly coming up in conversation. Many students on campus believe voting is essential.

When it comes to the presidential election in November, students that are from out-of-state but still have an interest in voting will have to get an absentee ballot – allowing them to mail in their vote prior to the election.
“I do get the perception that many students on campus are pretty well informed about politics, contrary to what people think about millennials,” President of WC Republicans sophomore Abigail Schultz said.
In The Atlantic’s article to find if millennials are involved in politics, titled “When It Comes to Politics, Do Millennials Care About Anything?” they found that while millennials have exhibited “more faith in community volunteering and entrepreneurship than other Americans, they have set historically low marks for trust in the government.”
“I think it’s important for students to be knowledgeable about politics because the right to vote is something that should be taken seriously, and the decision not to vote or to make an ill-informed decision defeats the purpose of having a government by the people,” Schultz said.
Millennials are found to be more demanding of transparency and accountability, and in choosing where to donate money, they pick the places where they have the “ability to see where they’ll make an impact,” according to The Atlantic.
Where some millennials believe that can be done better with volunteering, it can also be demonstrated by voicing your views politically. Sophomore James Mitchell believes that many WC students are well informed about issues facing government and said that voting is “quintessential” to American life.
“My mother grew up in the Philippines where polling places were staffed with armed military officials,” she said. “In other words, the elections were not free,” he said.  “Americans should seize every opportunity to voice their views.  We see many Americans doing just that during this election cycle.”
Mitchell brought up the Citizens United Supreme Court decision where many Americans feared that elections could easily be bought.
“Jeb Bush, who was backed by the most money, decisively lost early in the primary process. While Super PACs continue to raise extremely large sums of money, other factors heavily influence elections. Voting matters,” Mitchell said.
Freshman Amy Rudolph also believes that voting is important. “It’s my civic duty,” she said. “I’d like my voice to be heard. You can’t just be like ‘oh, I hope Candidate A wins’ and then not do anything about it.”
Rudolph feels like WC does a good job with having different clubs and outlets for students to voice their political interests.
“I feel like a lot of young voters are naïve – not necessarily WC students, but some may not know that they have to register or may not know when their primary is, how to get an absentee ballot if they need one, things like that.”
She said, “We have a lot on our plates, so we might forget that we have to register to vote,” she said.
Mitchell said that it’s important for all students to be educated in politics. He said, “Even if you follow a narrow subject pursuant in your interests, this knowledge influences your actions and has the potential to influence the action of others.”

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