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
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
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
“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
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
Colleen is a senior journalism and political science major. She
is also managing editor for The Collegian. Her column runs every