How educated are young voters in politics? How many young voters go into the poll pressing buttons, voting blindly for issues they don’t even understand?
Last spring, the COM 398 Controlling Spin class at Wilkes conducted a study on young voters age 17 to 30. Their purpose was to gain insight on how students view the candidates and issues of the 2012 election. The first focus group consisted of men and women ages 18 to 23.
As I was reading the data from the focus group, I saw a few excerpts from students that truly bothered me. When asked where the students received their political information from, the majority said they read it online. By online, they mean on Twitter and Facebook, and by occasionally skimming headlines of news websites.
If this is where the majority of young voters are getting their information from, we might be in trouble. As a not-so-proud owner of both a Facebook and Twitter account, I can tell you that neither of these two websites are reliable sources of information for anything other than what that girl you met once at a party ate for lunch.
One student stated that they did not have any time at all to be bothered by news about the election and that it did not interest them.
As a whole, young voters are misinformed about politics. They are misinformed about the candidates, and they are even misinformed about the voting process.
Many young voters feel as if they should not vote because they have not gathered enough facts to make an informed decision. Media bias, personal opinions and half-truths are a problem for young voters trying to find credible sources to read up on the candidates.
It’s not that we don’t want to be informed. It’s that we are confused and in need of some guidance. We are not incompetent. We are not ignorant. There is no doubt that some people are simply lazy and uninterested in politics, but I do believe that many young voters, myself included, are thoroughly discouraged by the empty promises and dishonesties that we’ve been getting from both parties this year.
I took a politics class my first semester at Wilkes. I was hoping to learn more about the voting process and the 2-party system. Instead I learned about the founding fathers and the history of democracy. All-important, however, learning the basics of voting process is necessary for every newly registered individual who may be unaware of his duties as an American citizen.
The election is here and now. At least on election years our history and politics classes should give students some idea about to do and why to do it. Otherwise young voters will continue to blindly cast their ballot based on a Facebook status they saw that morning.
According to Rock The Vote, there are 44 million eligible young voters, representing a fifth of the electorate. 44 million people whose votes matter. As a registered voter, you have a voice. If you would like to vote in the November election but feel you are not properly educated, there is still time to learn.
Look for credible sources when reading up on the candidates and where they stand on the issues. Facebook and Twitter cannot possibly give you the wealth of knowledge you need to make an educated decision.
Young voters can register to vote at voterreg.com or rockthevote.com.