UATV News Reporter Mary Kate Carson tells us how the 2016 debates will help engage students in the 2016 election.
Students in the U.S. have potential to make a major impact on the upcoming election coming up, but do they plan to watch the debates or show up to the polls?
Young adults make up around 15% of the voting population but many don’t utilize their ability to vote. In the 2012 Presidential Election, around half of young adult voters casted their ballots. This was the lowest amount of any age population in the country.
Many say they don’t vote because they don’t feel that their vote counts or their voice is heard, but statistics say otherwise. In the election, five million of Barack Obama’s votes were from citizens between the ages of 18-24. Some have said that if the voting age was ages 30 years and up, Mitt Romney would’ve been elected president.
What causes such a low amount of voter turnout in the U.S.? One student says she dislikes politics overall. U of A journalism student Hunter Mceatherine said “I try to avoid it at all costs because it’s very stressful. I don’t like the conflict.” Another student said he doesn’t have the time. Freshman Drew Logston said “I’ve got a lot of homework and don’t think I’ll be watching any TV tonight.” Many say, however, that it is a lack of knowledge that keeps them from making a choice.
How can the Presidential Debate help educate students and encourage them to vote in November? Political Communication Professor, Ryan Neville-Shepard, says “really what debates are now, especially because they are televised, are image events. And so we are going to be watching to determine if there is a candidate that we like, and represents who we are.”
The debate puts the candidates under the public eye and call them to answer questions without the help of a prewritten speech or a teleprompter. Neville-Shepard says, “we are watching to witness a gaft. To see an odd moment with maybe authenticity or personal honesty.”
Many say they hope the debate will give students the information they need to make a decision when they get to the polls this November. Sophomore Rob Branscum said “a lot of people think that their vote doesn’t matter, and I totally disagree with that. I think you should vote for the best one of the two that you like, regardless of party I think you need to vote for who you like.”
Live Interview with Journalism and Political Science student follows the story.