A student-led discussion will cover the importance of college-age voters in this year’s election.
As a part of the Raise Your Political Voice project, a small group of undergraduate political science and engineering students will discuss questions about topics such as voter accountability and third party candidates at 5 p.m. Tuesday in Student Center Ballroom C.
The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, the Center for Service-Learning and Volunteerism and the Department of Political Science Ambassador Program will sponsor the event as a part of the National Initiative on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement.
Young voters accounted for one in every four votes during the 2008 presidential election, said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, and their 2012 presidential race involvement remains a question.
Emerging factors such as new voting laws and a struggling economy will determine whether those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s will significantly impact the 2012 presidential campaign, he said.
Statistics by the Campus Vote Project — a campaign to make the voting process easier for college students — show registration as the key to college-age turnout on election day. In 2008, the Project stated there was an 87 percent turnout of 18- to 24-year-old college students who registered to vote.
Joe DeBose, a sophomore from Eldorado studying marketing, said students shouldn’t complain about the state of the country if they don’t want to get out and vote.
“An informed decision will count every time, but we will not maintain our personal liberty in this country if we don’t exercise our right to vote,” he said.
In 2010, more than a quarter of college students reported that they did not register to vote because they did not know where to or they missed the deadline, according to the Project.
Philip Habel, an assistant professor of political science, said college-age voters who don’t register to vote represent a general lack of interest among their age group.
David Lynch, a student discussion leader and member of Raise Your Political Voice, said open discusion has always been the best way to get people involved in the democratic process despite some students’ lack of interest.
“This is part of a nationwide initiative to get students out on election day,” Lynch said. “Open discussions like these are taking place all over the country in order to get students involved. This is a chance for students at SIU to make their voices heard.”