BY ANISHA JINTOORKAR
As the 2020 primary and presidential elections are quickly approaching, the university is encouraging students, faculty and staff to register for their right to vote. A tabling event to register for the primaries is scheduled for Monday, March 30, and another is scheduled for the presidential election on Thursday, April 2. Both will take place in Hillwood Commons from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.
LIU Votes is a campus-wide marketing initiative to promote participation in the election process. At the tabling events and on their website, www.liu.edu/votes, voter registration and absentee ballot applications are available for all 50 states.
According to Best Colleges, in 2017, 16.8 million undergraduate students were enrolled to vote nationwide, but actual voter turnout was poor. On the upside, the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement (NSLVE) calculated that 40.3 percent of registered student voters took the time to cast their ballots in 2018, doubling the percentage that voted in 2014.
Both studies concluded that a number of factors contribute to the low student turnout such as a dislike for the candidates, voting barriers, hectic schedules, heavy workload, and changing policies that confuse young people on how to vote.
On campus, students expressed different reasons for whether or not they participate in the voting process.
“Well, I don’t follow politics so I don’t feel like I can make a good informed decision,” Lauren Ramirez, junior accounting major, said.
Those who voice strong opinions against candidates usually don’t go out of their way to vote, according to Joseph Campisi, sophomore biology major. He finds it ironic that people can hold strong viewpoints on how to “better the world” but neglect to participate in a way that actually counts.
“I think everyone should vote in every election to express their right to do so, and to voice their opinions on matters that affect us all as a country,” Campisi said.
College students tend to be occupied with studies, sports and extracurricular activities, leaving them with little time for anything else.
“I am not registered to vote as I have not had the chance due to a busy schedule and have not made this a priority,” Alex Price, sophomore business major, said. He explained further that he plans to register and vote in the upcoming elections.
Understanding each candidate’s proposed policies and viewpoints is also an important part of the voting process. Students should make sure they’re electing the right person with the right values for the job, according to Michael Soupios, professor of political science.
“Which means in addition to voting, young folks must do their research…the last thing the Republic needs is another generation of mountebanks and political scoundrels leading the nation,” he said.
Ashley Rodriguez, president of the Student Government Association (SGA) and senior accounting major, said, “SGA believes that it is very important to promote voter registration. Last semester we hosted a tanking event with the paperwork needed to help students register to vote.”
Rodriguez emphasized why her fellow classmates shouldn’t hesitate to enter the voting booth. Often, students accept the notion that their single vote doesn’t count, when in actuality this is far from the case.
“Every single vote matters and can make a difference,” she said.
Heather Felix, senior public relations major, agreed with Rodriguez, but credited the low voter turnout to her belief that college students don’t care enough about politics because they don’t think it affects them.
“This is entirely untrue as our representatives are responsible for policies and legislation which shape the social landscape and economy we will enter into after graduation,” Felix said.
“It is important for college students to make educated decisions, not just align with their parents’ political beliefs, and vote for candidates who they believe are most capable. Our right to vote is taken for granted when so many fought for that privilege. Registering to vote is also so easy. There’s no excuse.”
In the United States, it’s valuable to remember that voting is a right and privilege that is not mandatory, but is highly suggested. In several other countries like Australia, Argentina and Belgium, voting is compulsory and failure to vote results in penalties.
“It is very important to register and vote,” Soupios said. “Young people better remember when old people such as myself go off to the bone garden, the system belongs to them.”