Midterm elections on Tuesday, Nov. 4, are right around the corner, and California Lutheran University’s Internet and Politics class, taught by Dr. Jose Marichal, aims to spark an interest in voting and increase voter turnout among Cal Lutheran students.
Marichal said in an email interview that for some time now, young adult voter turnout has been very low in comparison to that of older demographics. This is due to a variety of factors.
“Part of it has to do with maturing and seeing how power affects you directly. It also has to do with being more invested when you have a job, a family of your own, etc. This is a problem because your generation has a lot of challenges it faces (tuition costs, job creation, women’s health, etc.) and we need your voice,” Marichal said.
In order to reach these voices, senior Michelle Grawet, a student in the class, said her group will be giving out surveys through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to help determine what motivates or prevents students from voting. If the participant takes the survey and shares it with the hashtag, #useyourvote, he or she will be entered into a raffle to win a prize.
“Our goal is to create a spark in students and help them find something that they do care about,” Grawet said. Grawet and her group are also creating an outline of all the candidates and bills being voted on in the midterm elections. They will post it to their Facebook page so students can quickly inform themselves about the candidates and bills.
“People don’t see changes in their every day life, so they don’t see it as important, and they think ‘how is my vote going to change this?”’ Grawet said. She hopes that by making students and youth more aware of the candidates and bills being voted on, students will take a greater interest to voting.
Although their project is along the same lines, senior Aaron Gomez and junior Ashley Lomelin, are taking a slightly different direction. Their group plans on sharing information about voting through social media sites with the hashtag, #turnouttuesday, as well as setting up information tables on the spine the day of midterm elections to help persuade students to go and vote.
“Social media is the number one way to reach people. Twitter has 270 million people that are active on it. Facebook has 1 billion,” Gomez said. However, Gomez said on a smaller campus, word of mouth and face-to-face contact can be more effective because it is more personal and many people know one another.
The hope is that reaching out to students will show them the importance of voting. “It’s not that they’re dumb or lazy, it’s that they’re just not interested and the older generations weren’t interested either so they didn’t teach us the importance of voting,” Lomelin said.
Marichal reiterates this point by emphasizing the need to change the mentality of youth.
“Get young people to recognize that ‘whether they play or not, the game goes on.’ Power gets exercised whether you like it or not and to just opt out is childish. You’re better off pushing to improve the system,” Marichal said.
Cal Lutheran has its own polling site, so to vote in the midterm elections on Tuesday, Nov. 4, go to the Nelson Room, and cast your ballot.
Published October 29, 2014