The Epidemic of Low Voter Turnout

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Published November 2, 2015
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The Montclarion
Students can register to vote on campus. Photo Credit: Alex Gamboa
Students can register to vote on campus. Photo Credit: Alex Gamboa

Students can register to vote on campus.
Photo Credit: Alex Gamboa

Democracy: something that some Americans believe is woven into the fabric of country, something just as important to us as our freedom, something we take for granted.

According to the American Presidency Project, voter turnout has not been above 60 percent since the presidential election of 1968, when Richard Nixon won. In 2000, the season finale of “Survivor” got more attention than the Bush versus Gore election, with over 300 million people tuning into the reality show, whereas only 105,405,100 individuals cast a vote in the presidential election.  That’s over two-thirds more people watching “Survivor” than voting for president.

Are these numbers reflective of how much importance our citizens place on the leaders that run our government? The Huffington Post reported that the 2014 midterm Elections set a record. Voter turnout for this particular election was the lowest since 1942, when only 33.9 percent of eligible voters cast ballots. These numbers were provided by the United States Election Project.

Readers may not surprised to find out that New Jersey held a record low for the 2014 midterm elections as well, which saw U.S. Senator Cory Booker win re-election. NJ.com reported that “1,955,042 of the state’s 5,464,669 registered voters cast ballots.”

Lines to tie-dye t-shirts were much longer than lines to register to vote, Gamboa reports. Photo Credit: Alex Gamboa

Lines to tie-dye t-shirts were much longer than lines to register to vote, Gamboa reports.
Photo Credit: Alex Gamboa

Jaden Jackson, President of Alpha Chi Rho registered new voters at a table for Montclair State’s Voter Registration Day. The Center for Civic and Voter Engagement organized this event.

Parallel from this voter registration event was one for tie-dyeing shirts. Its line was tenfold that of the one for students registering to vote.

When Jackson was asked how many voters registered, he answered, “approximately 150.”

When asked if he thought more people could have shown up, Jackson said, “Oh definitely. It’s extremely difficult to get anyone to care about voting, especially apathetic college students. There are some students who are highly active with politics and voting on campus, who understand the importance of voting, but that’s a really small group. From what I understand, the Center for Civic and Voter Engagement is happy about the success they’ve had so far, but I definitely see a lot of room for improvement and greater success.”

Jackson also believes that public schooling may have to do with our generation’s poor voting turnout and overall lack of voting enthusiasm. He was able to reflect on his early schooling days and what little encouragement he had received when it came to voting.

“ I grew up in several different public schools all over the West Coast and very few of them took the time to teach anything about politics or the voting system. I think if people were more aware of how many components make up our country, they would care a lot more about what happens with those components.”

The waning number of voters actually showing up to polls to vote for this country’s next leaders has a visible effect when it comes to attendance of voting-related events on campus. Hopefully, programs like “Rock the Vote” and more events by the Center for Civic and Voter Engagement can muster up more numbers at the poll for the upcoming 2016 Presidential Election.

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