College students voted in record numbers for 2020 but will we see this trend continue?
With the 2022 midterms just next week and a variety of issues at stake, college students are a demographic with a growing voter turnout, but can we expect this to continue?
The 2020 elections brought in record numbers of voters. According to a report from the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education, it was found that 66% of college students voted, up from 53% in the previous 2016 election. Generally, we don’t see the same turnout for midterm elections like we do for the presidential elections, but that still doesn’t make the issues less important.
Here on Washington ballots, Senator Patty Murray (Democrat) is running to keep her senatorial seat, running against Tiffany Smiley (Republican). Running for re-election in the House of Representatives is former Tacoma Mayor, Marilyn Strickland (Democrat) and running against her is Keith R. Swank (Republican).
Currently, Democrats have a majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, but with this upcoming midterm, are at risk of losing seats in the House, leading to Republicans having a majority of seats. President Biden has pledged that if Democrats do keep their majority in both the House and Senate and gain more seats in the House, he will focus on codifying Roe v. Wade. This would protect abortion rights and enact these rights into law. This was a much-discussed issue over the summer with the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June.
But are these enough reasons for students to turn out and vote in these midterm elections? While many individuals may be registered to vote, voting may just not cross some students’ minds.
Han Lee, a student majoring in IT, explained why he wouldn’t be voting in these elections.
“It doesn’t cross my mind in the voting season. Just all of it slips my mind, I try not to think about it. I try to stay away from politics,” Lee said.
Other UWT students feel a bit more passionate about voting.
“I think it’s important to go and vote, especially for women… What I have learned in life as of recently, you have to take control of your own life and you can’t have someone try and control it and you have to push back, even if it is hard to push back, do all that you can,” said Taylor Curtis-Davis, a senior studying International Communications.
For younger students who may be interested in voting, there could be the issue of whether they are registered or not.
“I keep forgetting to [register], but Snapchat keeps reminding me,” said Gabby Quintinita, a freshman.
Even though they are not registered, Quintinita still expressed a desire to vote if they did so.
“I’d probably need to learn more about candidates and all that but probably,” Quintinita said.
Not all students have the opportunity to vote. Ariel Vasquez, a sophomore and DACA recipient expressed their desire to vote but acknowledged the complexities that come with voting.
“It looks pretty stressful, but it’s also stressful not being able to participate,” Vasquez said.
The last day for registering to vote has already passed on October 31, two weeks before the election, but in Washington State individuals can register to vote in-person up until the day ballots are due, which will be November 8.
If students are unsure whether they have enough time to drop off or mail in their ballot, there is a ballot box located on Pacific Ave next to the bus stops and Subway.
If you would like to check on your ballot, update your voter registration information or find more information about the issues on your ballots this November, you can go to https://voter.votewa.gov/WhereToVote.aspx to learn more.