Sep 172002
Authors: Melissa Pester

Another election year brings political advertisements, forums, newspaper articles and other ways for politicians to be heard by a nation of voters – and non-voters.

Why American citizens, specifically college-aged students, do not vote or engage in the political process are some of the questions on the minds of pollsters, politicians and CSU students.

“I believe my peers don’t vote because it is easier not to vote,” said Kendra Olds, a sophomore open option major.

After almost every election it is reported that voter turnout has fallen, especially after the outcome of the 2000 presidential election.

“Students see this world of politics controlled by big businesses, and a lot of money being given to campaigns, and they don’t see voting as a way to compete in this world,” said Mark Claibourne, a junior history major. “They feel their vote can’t make a difference.”

Getting information to the student population is one key to winning the student vote, Claibourne suggested.

“I believe that if professors took one day, or five minutes every day, in front of their classes and went over all the candidates, that would be a wonderful way to increase student awareness,” he said.

Students also argue that politicians do not focus their campaigns on issues that can affect issues faced by college students every day.

“Candidates don’t focus on the issues that are relevant to student lives,” said Elizabeth Klostermann, a junior technical journalism major. “It seems like they don’t care about us.”

The 1972 presidential election saw high turnout from the student population. In the middle of the Vietnam War, college students flocked to the polls to back presidential candidate George McGovern, an anti-war candidate running against Richard Nixon.

McGovern lost the election, and since then college-level voter turnout has steadily declined.

“(Students) don’t see their vote as relevant,” said senior Travis Brinkman, a civil engineering major. “You don’t ever see the true effect of your vote.”

Voter turnout in Colorado has taken an interesting turn during the 2002 election as absentee ballots become more popular with state voters. Last August, the number of absentee ballots received for the primary election in Denver exceeded 26,930 – a number the Denver Post reported as equal to the total voter turnout for the actual election in 2000.

Colorado lawmakers are doing their best to make voting as easy as possible for voters, with changes to the state constitution proposed by Amendment 30. This amendment would allow anyone to come to the polls on an Election Day and vote without registering beforehand.

“(Same-day voter registration) is one of the ways to increase voter turnout, especially in the student population,” Claibourne said.

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