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Davis, California

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Most students psyched about midterm elections

As the folks at MTV would say, UC Davis students appear ready to rock the vote.

Though some students remain apathetic about the Nov. 2 elections, many reported that not only do they intend to vote, but they also believe that the election comes at a turning point in California’s future.

Junior international relations major Ivana Escartin said she already voted in Ventura County.

“I wanted to vote for governor since it’s a close race, and I also thought that proposition [23] about the environment was important,” Escartin said.

The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) recently found that people aged 18 to 29 have voted in increasing numbers for the past three presidential elections. Though midterm elections typically attract fewer voters, CIRCLE Director Peter Levine said young people have many interests that will be affected by the results of the upcoming election.

“A lot of people are discouraged about the economy,” Levine said. “There are also groups of young people that are concerned with climate change and gays in the military, issues which are interesting because in both cases the Obama administration hasn’t made as much progress as proponents would like.”

CIRCLE found that in 2008, 53 percent of citizens’ aged 18 to 29 voted, as opposed to 66 percent of citizens aged 30 and over. College students are twice as likely to vote than their non-student counterparts, a fact Levine attributed to class differences in the United States.

Some students admitted that they were not knowledgeable or interested in the midterm elections this year. Sophomore undeclared social sciences major Stephanie Cheung said she might vote if she finds an opportunity, but does not have much exposure to the issues and candidates.

“I don’t really read the package thing that comes in the mail, and I don’t talk with my friends about it so I don’t know too much,” Cheung said. “I’m only 19.”

Like Cheung, junior cell biology major Amelia French confessed that she hadn’t been paying much attention to the election.

“I don’t really follow politics, and from what I’ve heard about the [gubernatorial] candidates I don’t like either of them,” French said.

But Davis College Democrats President Sam Mahood found that students are generally aware of the importance the election has on their own futures and are excited to vote.

Public education especially will be influenced by California’s next governor, Mahood said.

“Our livelihood is on the line here. Public education costs have been skyrocketing for the past few years and we’ve seen what budget gridlock and chaos in California has done,” he said. “It’s important that young people vote for people like Jerry Brown who are going to stand up for education and sort out the budget mess that our state has been locked in.”

The Davis College Republicans could not be reached for comment.

Junior linguistics major Sara Beach plans on supporting Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman and Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina. Discussing the candidates and issues is a family tradition, she said.

“Brown has already been governor and did a bad job,” Beach said. “Barbara Boxer has been in the Senate for a long time and hasn’t done anything to benefit California. She had her chance and really bombed it.”

The question of whether Democrats or Republicans will control Congress is one that will be answered by the election. If Republicans become the majority, President Obama’s reforms may not come to pass.

If they are defeated, some of his administration’s reforms will, Levine said.

If all young people voted, that would mean an additional 40 million votes – enough to easily determine the winner. Even if young voters participated at equal rates as older voters, Levine still predicted they would seriously affect the outcome.

“The polls right now predict a Republican win in Congress,” Levine said. “If various constituencies that tend to be more Democratic, like young people, were as likely to vote, Democrats would be ahead in the polls. So if they voted at the same rate as older people, Democrats would have a good chance of controlling Congress.”

No matter what their political preference, Mahood and Levine encouraged all students to get out and vote.

Senior evolution and ecology major Dai Fukumoto is not a U.S. citizen, but said he was closely following the Proposition 19 vote and hoped that Jerry Brown, who he considers the lesser of two evils, wins the governor’s race.

Fukumoto definitely plans on voting when he earns his citizenship.

“Voting makes a difference, and you have the right,” Fukumoto said. “You have to vote, otherwise … you just have to vote.”

ERIN MIGDOL can be reached at features@theaggie.org.


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