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Forecast predicts less young voters for 2012 election

Submitted by Jacob Ellerbee on October 17, 2012 – 1:00 pmNo Comment

With the 2012 presidential election just around the corner, UALR students are beginning to think about the election, but thinking about the election is as far as many of them will go. Predictions, based on recent trends, forecast that more than half of young people (ages 18-24) will not be voting in the national election next month.

The United States Census Bureau recently released extensive voter statistics from 2008, showing just 48 percent of citizens between ages 18-24 voted in the election. The report showed 25.7 million young people met all of the requirements to vote in 2008; however, only 12.5 million of them actually went to the polls to cast a vote.

Young people habitually have the fewest number of representatives when it comes to voter turnout statistics. So, the Census Bureau asked young people why they may not have voted. The most frequently cited reason was, “too busy, conflicting schedule.” Another reason frequently cited on the survey was, “not interested.”

Some UALR students expressed their opinions about the voting process. Abby Pyland, a sophomore nursing major, said it is an important experience for young people to attain, “I think that it shows a level of maturity and is an important rite of passage for teenagers into adulthood and it is very important to let your voice be heard.”

As evident by the Census Bureau data, not all young people share the same view as Pyland. In fact, Carlos Sepulveda, a junior economics major, said she feels it’s a waste of time to vote, “I don’t generally agree with the consensus, so I don’t bother to register [to vote].”

This November, there are a couple of issues on the ballot that may be of interest to young voters. At the local level, Arkansans will vote on authorizing the use of medical marijuana and increasing sales taxes by a half-cent. At the national level, voters will be choosing who they see best fit to lead the country out of an economic recession and into a time of ubiquitous job growth. And on a global level, a key issue will be finding a way to calm the tensions between Iran and Israel.

Iran says it is enriching uranium to develop nuclear energy. Israel says Iran is enriching uranium to develop a nuclear weapon to attack its country. In the next term, the President will need to make tough choices regarding military action, foreign diplomacy and an anemic world economy. A young person’s vote will directly affect many or all of these issues.

Unbeknownst to some, a vote cast for President of the United States could also be a vote which influences potential judicial appointments. In a conversation with  Bruce Plopper, a UALR School of Mass Communication professor who helped pass the Arkansas Student Publications Act in the mid-’90s, he predicted that the next U.S. President is likely to appoint a new Supreme Court Justice. There are three Supreme Court Justices of the United States that are in their mid-to-late ‘70s: Justice Antonin Scalia (conservative), Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg (liberal) and Justice Anthony Kennedy (whom Plopper calls a “swing voter”).

Plopper reminds young people to pick their presidential candidate wisely, because “whoever is elected in November will most likely have the chance to appoint one or more justices who could change the complexion of the Court.” Experts speculate that if Gov. Mitt Romney is elected president, perhaps conservative justices will be appointed. If President Obama is re-elected, perhaps liberal justices will be appointed.

According to the Associated Press, issues already on the Supreme Court of the United States docket include affirmative action, national security issues and human rights issues. Possible cases that may be added to the docket during the coming months include same-sex marriage, voting rights and abortion rights.

If any Arkansas resident is unsure if he or she is registered to vote, the Secretary of State offices have provided a mobile site to quickly check voter eligibility in next month’s election. By going to sos.arkansas.gov/voterview/m, you can view a sample ballot that will be similar to the one used  on Election Day. Within the mobile site you can also find out where you need to go to vote on Election Day. The 2012 United States presidential election will be held Tuesday Nov. 6.

 

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