Fifty- three percent of young voters, ages 18 to 29, participated in the past presidential election, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) website.
However both local and midterm elections continue to draw less participation among all voters- not just young ones.
In Aurora, 57 percent of all voters cast ballots in the 2004 presidential election and 64 percent came out to cast votes for the 2008 presidential election, according to the Aurora Election Commission’s (AEC) website.
In the 2007 consolidated election a measly 17 percent of voters came out to cast a ballot and in 2009 it was only 20 percent.
“The years people often forget are the ones that matter most,” said Amy Manion.
Manion, who assists students with voter registration, attributes the drop in voter turnout to several factors, including voters’ lack of issue awareness.
The only time people may show a little more interest is if someone in the state’s executive branch is up for re-election, said Manion. According to the AEC’s website, the 2010 midterm state election has a 41 percent turnout.
“I think more people vote at the national level because they don’t think it is as important to vote for little things,” said junior Tiffany Walz. “They only care about the big picture, like the next president.”
Students mistakenly believe that the actions of a president have more of an impact on people’s day-to-day lives then their city council. Local governments are relatively small, but voters should not assume that policies passed at this level are inferior to national issues.
“There is a misconception amongst the citizenry that a presidential election somehow more important,” said Manion.
Recent AU graduate Katie Freeman suggests that the drop in voter turnout occurs because people don’t follow local politics. “Unless there is a major issue going on than voters do not form an opinion and it is hard not to have an opinion during national elections,” said Freeman.
Local municipalities are places where government truly works in favor of the citizenry, which includes the university’s on-campus residents.
Fortunately for students, faculty and staff, Manion was appointed deputy registrar in 2007 so she could better assist people in AU’s community who are interested in local political participation. Manion recommends CIRCLE is the best place to go for accurate and credible information on voter participation.
“I wish [students] would take more interest in local elections, because those really have an impact on your day-to-day life,” said Manion.[poll id=”2″]