President Barack Obama speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday.
After officially accepting the presidential nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, President Obama must now look to guidance from youth voters to propel him to re-election.
In his speech, Obama rallied the crowd and urged support of his campaign while sharing his plans for student-loan reform amid skyrocketing tuition rates and a challenging economic climate.
“Help us work with colleges and universities to cut in half the growth of tuition costs over the next 10 years. We can meet that goal together,” Obama said.
Though many students have expressed growing frustration and political disillusionment in the wake of mounting student debt and an uncertain job market, playing an active role in the November election is critical to achieving progressive change.
Despite the outpouring of support for Obama among students in 2008, recent polls show that young voters are becoming increasingly hesitant as Election Day nears. A July Gallup survey found that 58% of voters age 18-29 said they will “definitely vote” in November, versus 78% that were asked the same question in 2008.
Additionally, 30% of voters 18-29 are still undecided about which candidate to vote for, according to a recent article in The New York Times.
Chad Tevlin, a 19-year-old Indiana University student, told The New York Times that he has grown increasingly wary of the state of American politics and the growing schism between Democrats and Republicans over the years.
“I see lies and I hear lies, nothing gets past partisanship, and I don’t believe anything,” he said. “I think the party system is stupid.”
Peter Levine, director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University, told The New York Times that the general lack of enthusiasm for political engagement among youth voters is troubling for the Obama campaign.
“I think the lack of excitement right now is palpable enough to be a challenge to the re-election campaign,” he said.
However, matching the enthusiasm of the historic 2008 presidential election — which garnered an all-time high of 23 million voters under the age of 30, according to CIRCLE — is no easy feat.
Though with issues crucial to young voters taking prominence on party platforms, including job growth, birth control and higher-education funding, it’s essential that students come out to the polls in order to make their voice heard.
Greater awareness on how to register to vote and the voting process is also key. According to data from CIRCLE, 68% of youth voters aren’t sure if a valid photo ID is required to vote in their state.
Programs like Rock the Vote have continued to encourage youth participation and political awareness using innovative methods of outreach, including partnerships with Virgin Atlantic and Microsoft Xbox, as part of their effort to amass 1.5 million new voters.
“We have an election process that was built for a 19th-century voter,” Heather Smith, Rock the Vote president told Time magazine.
With just under two months until Election Day, America’s youth needs to envision the country they want to see over the course of the next four years and make an informed decision as to which candidate can make that a reality.
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