One in five citizens between the ages of 18 and 29 voted in the midterm election. Youth turnout has held steady for years; the percentage of young voters this year is around two percent less than in 1998.
“I was never too much into politics and never took the time to register,” junior American history major Jeremy Biederman said. “The older I get, the more I feel I should vote.”
Biederman, a Boston native, plans to return to Massachusetts after completing his degree, a factor that may play a part in student apathy, at least as far as the midterm election is concerned.
“I didn’t care as much about the local issues because I don’t plan on staying in Texas long after I graduate,” Biederman said. Biederman has never voted in a presidential election, but plans to register to vote before the next election.
“When I was younger I wasn’t as aware of the issues as I am now,” he said.
Organizations like “Rock the Vote” have tried to motivate young voters with only minimal success.
“College students would be more enticed to vote if they had incentives because as teenagers we don’t really see the impact that would come from our votes,” freshman pre-business major JC Gutierrez said.
Biederman agreed that students should be given more avenues to get involved in the process.
“I think if you’re in a politics class during an election, it should be part of the class to find out about the candidates whether it’s doing a report on them or actually going out to vote,” Biederman said.
In competitive states, youth turnout is higher than in states that are either Democratic or Republican.
“It’s a huge problem,” SGA president Derek Trimm said. “[Politicians] target their policy making toward the older generation because they know that statistically the older generation has a higher percentage of voters.”
Gutierrez said he was more likely to vote in a presidential election.
“I don’t think the midterm elections are as important as the presidential elections,” Gutierrez said. “I feel it is not really going to affect me.”
SGA united under the voting issue to help prepare the campus for the election. Trimm is hopeful that gradually student turnout will increase.
“Once we start shifting our mentality toward recognizing the importance of voting and recognizing the issues that affect our everyday lives are caused by government policy, students will be more active politically,” Trimm said.
SGA’s activities included registering voters and a candidate meet and greet, where about
25 candidates and 40 campaign teams assembled to meet with UTSA students.
“Students were able to come up and talk to the candidates,” Trimm said. “Normally, you would have no idea who these people are, but they actually came to campus.”
Guests included Jeff Wintworth, Elena White and Rick Perry’s campaign team.
“As a college student I didn’t feel pressured to vote,” Gutierrez said. “I felt informed about the candidates, but I felt the campaigns were aimed at middle class, middle-aged people.”