Mar 072004
 
Authors: Colleen Buhrer

With Bush’s proclamation last week to support a constitutional

amendment to define marriage as that between one man and one woman,

students across campus have been voicing their opinions on the

issue.

Whether it is on the opinion page of The Collegian, in

classrooms or just walking on the Plaza, students are emphatically

weighing in on gay marriage.

All of this talk is good, but now is the time for action.

Instead of just giving an opinion to your classmate, register to

vote and in November give your opinion to the country.

In two political science classes, an informal poll was conducted

by a professor asking if students support a ban on gay marriage. In

one class eight people said “yes” and 25 people said “no”. In the

other class, 57 said “yes” and 89 said “no”.

My observation is that college students tend to be more

accepting of gay marriage than senior citizens, but the college

student view will not be heard come this November.

“In 2000, 42 percent of 18-to 24-year-old citizens voted; 70

percent of citizens 25 and older voted,” according to the National

Alliance for Civic Education Web site, www.civicyouth.org. “In

Presidential election years between 1972 and 2000, the national

youth voter turnout rate declined by 13 percentage points (among

18-to 24-year-old voters).”

Young voters are also at a disadvantage because there are simply

more senior citizens than 18- to 24- year-olds. But that dynamic is

changing, and if the majority of 18-to 24-year-olds would get out

and vote they could counteract this disadvantage.

“While the young voting age population has not eclipsed the

numbers of older age voters, the young voting age population is

growing at a significant rate. By 2004 there (was expected to) be

23.9 million 18- to 24- year-olds,” according to

newvotersproject.org.

This means that despite the typical youth support of same-sex

marriage, it will make no difference because young voters are

outdone by older voters.

This poor voting record is why politicians ignore young

voters.

“Each year as youth voter turnout declines, the rationale is

further perpetuated,” according to the New Voter’s Project Web

site. “Because young people don’t vote, campaigns feel they

shouldn’t waste resources targeting young voters. As a result, more

and more young people feel disengaged in the very process that

drives the engine of our democracy.”

It has been shown that young people do not tend to vote because

they don’t feel that voting is an effective tool to voice their

opinion. But if all young people voted, they would be listened

to.

Young votes can be important.

“Republicans and Democrats are each battling over a handful of

swing voters. Voter turnout and the discovery of new voters has

become more critical than ever,” according to newvotersproject.org.

“The current generation of young voters is essentially up for

grabs, and like any prospective customer base, political parties

stand to make significant gains from any early connection they make

with this growing sector.”

Even though citizens may not be given the opportunity to vote

directly for the issues they are interested in, they can vote for

the people that will represent their opinion.

Every election year students consistently hear that they need to

vote. I am always one of the people preaching that message. This

year I say it is more important than ever.

For every person voicing his or her opinion on same-sex marriage

(for or against,) the war effort in Iraq or any other hot issue of

the time, take 30 minutes out of your day on Nov. 2 and give your

vote.

 

Colleen is a senior journalism and political science major. She

is also managing editor for The Collegian. Her column runs every

other Monday.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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