Young voters are a constant target when it comes to voting recruitment; but the question is, do these young voting prospects even know what they’re voting for?
With the mass media consistently throwing political messages in the faces of young voters, it can be difficult to create beliefs and opinions without a major outside influence.
Kinesiology major Korey Gerdts, 22, says he doesn’t believe in voting for something just because the favored party says to. He takes pride in going against the grain when it comes to being influenced.
“I don’t just believe in a popularity vote,” Gerdts said. “People shouldn’t vote if they aren’t educated in politics. I’m tired of ignorant people who listen to the media and don’t know the first thing about what they’re really voting for.”
Young voters can become lost in the media shuffle and lose track of their initial position on an issue. They can end up voting just for the sake of it because they were bombarded with too many manipulated messages.
As young citizens start to realize the effect their vote will have, more and more voters are taking the time and effort to educate themselves before they vote. There’s a difference between voting just to receive your “I voted” sticker, and voting with an intention of a result.
Gerdts isn’t the only student who has come to that realization. San Jose State student Alex Wara said she firmly believes in taking matters into her own hands to get what she wants now and in the future.
“It is a proven fact in our country that voting is the only way people as a whole can determine how they want their country run,” Wara said. “Voting gives everyone a voice and a chance to elect the change they want to see.”
Where voters get their information plays a definitive role in their ultimate decisions. Some may trust their preferred news sources, whereas others choose to do their own research.
“I get my information primarily from the media,” Wara said. “Political blogs, Web sites, television and newspapers are what keep me up to date.”
Gerdts, who said he doesn’t trust most outlets, relies on his own in-depth research for a final decision.
“I prefer to do my own reading and research,” Gerdts said. “I also gain insight from speaking with my parents and friends and weighing out all our opinions.”
Joe Nino, a senior business major, feels like no matter where he gets his information from, the source isn’t very reliable. He has never voted, and never plans on voting.
“I don’t vote mainly because I hate the electoral vote,” Nino said. “Because of the electoral vote, the Democratic Party will always win in California and the margin of victory doesn’t make a difference, which makes my vote not matter. The electoral vote makes the popular statement ‘every vote counts’ about as inaccurate and misleading as possible.”
Nino also said most voters, especially the young ones, aren’t nearly educated enough to vote on important issues, and that includes himself.
“If I voted, ignorance would prevail,” Nino said. “That’s why I usually just find someone who would vote for the opposite candidates as I would, and we both just agree to not vote. We’d only be cancelling each other out anyway.”
While Nino’s view may make some avid voters cringe, other young voters are still optimistic. Fresno State senior Suzanne Jenkins, 22, is a prime example of someone who believes her vote is worth every bit of effort she puts in, to educate herself.
“I try and disregard my own biases, and have an open mind when it comes to research and collecting information on politics,” Jenkins said. “I don’t always like to vote for a conservative policy just because republican leaders advise me to.”
Jenkins can’t put her finger on why young people wouldn’t want to be more educated in politics when they ultimately affect her generation.
“People don’t understand how important it is to actively participate in shaping our country’s future,” Jenkins said. “A majority of the important issues right now are going to affect us, as young voters, more than anyone.”
Although reasons for voting or not voting during election time varies from person to person, it is up to the voter to make it worth it by knowing what they’re voting for.