By Eric Emmons, Staff Writer –
This year’s national election may be one of the most important elections ever, yet the number
of voters age 18 to 24 continues to drop.
The question remains, why?
“Students often do not know how to vote and do not appear to take the time to learn how,”
said Kurt Troutman, a political science and history instructor at MCC. “Clearly a plethora of information
is available, but Kardashian nonsense appears to fill their days. When students can name more
Kardashians than Senators, we as a nation have a problem.”
The number of college-age students who vote continues to decline. In 2008, 44 percent of
college-age students ages 18 -24 voted, and four years later only 38 percent in that age group voted.
“In my opinion, students fail to see the value of their vote,” said Troutman. “In an era of self-
importance, students have been allowed (usually by their parents) to neglect their civic responsibilities.
Much is asked by people of this country and voting is one method of giving back.”
Troutman added that political participation among college-age students is at an all-time low.
“The current academic and personal climate of constant reward promotes a justification of a
‘What’s in it for me?’ attitude,” he said.
MCC has about 5,000 students and if that average 38 percent of students vote this year, then
only about 1,500 MCC students will have voted this election. That’s enough to change who is elected to
the MCC board, he Muskegon County sheriff, or the area’s state representative.
While a low percentage of students even bother to learn about candidates, some do buck the
“I’m voting because I need to take advantage of my rights and not take them for granted,” said
Isaac Hunter, MCC student.
Yet the decline in college-age participation in elections is widespread. Student newspapers
around the country report the same percentages. Collin Brennan of Christopher Newport University in
Newport News, Va., which is about the size of MCC, interviewed the head of CNU’s political science
department. The professor said there are many reasons why college-age students don’t vote.
“The extent to which young adults feel they have a stake in the establishment is less than the
older voter,” Quentin Kidd told Brennan. He also said that college-age students often are living away
from home and don’t know much about the local community or its politics, so they don’t feel motivated
Kidd added that many issues in national elections, such as Social Security and foreign policy
“aren’t things college-aged students generally worry about.”
Others feel their vote doesn’t make any difference. However, in the 2012 presidential election,
young voters were one of the key voting blocs in electing Barack Obama. He won the 18- to 29-year- old
vote over Romney by more than 5 million votes.
Maya Kamani, a student at Drexel University in Philadelphia offered her opinion on why
students don’t participate in the system.
“It comes down to some level of disillusionment with the electoral system,” she told a reporter
for CNBC.com. “In the aftermath of a year filled with increased racial tensions, some African-Americans
are cynical about their value in the nation.”
As the political talk can wear down voters of all ages, sometimes the overdose of politics is not
what keeps students from going to the polls. Some say they can’t vote because they will be away from
home on Election Day, or have to go to classes and work.
However, absentee ballots can be requested up to and including election day, although they
must be returned by the time the polls close.
Featured Image: Maya Barnett shows the Anatomy of a Ballot display outside the Student Life office. It was put up by members of the Student Government Association to help students become informed about the election. -Photo by Grace Dowling