Aubrey Marks, left, helps a University of Central Florida student to register to vote in Orlando, Fla. While some students have registered and intend to vote, 44% of those 18-29 say they are not planning on voting in November.
Some college students are among 90 million unlikely voters that may deny President Obama a second term.
This year’s electorate differs from the one that propelled Obama to the White House in 2008. A Gallup poll found 44% of those in the 18-29 age range, the demographic that supported the president almost 2-1 over Sen. John McCain in 2008, may not make an effort to cast a ballot this year.
“It was different back in 2008,” said Audrey Lloyd, a 20-year-old senior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. “There were fresh faces, and the fight was different.”
Four years later, Lloyd and her generation have indeed found other rallying causes. As her peers struggle with 16.4% unemployment rate and widespread underemployment, their 2008 energy has waned. The president’s appeals to college-aged voters in 2012 have ranged from his support for tuition aid and student-loan assistance.
Lloyd said that in high school she volunteered at Obama’s election office and registered voters. Now she is unregistered herself and said she will not arrange to cast an absentee ballot when she studies abroad this fall.
Obama’s ineffective administration, the flawed Electoral College and an election compromised by money discourage her from voting, she said. Lloyd said she admitted she was dismissing the crucial constitutional entitlement.
“People have fought for that right, and I take that for granted,” she said.
Young voters are historically unreliable. Although their turnout in 2008 was 51%, it fell to 24% in 2010, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. However, other university students plan to line up at the polls Nov. 6.
Lena Aloumari, a 22-year-old senior at Appalachian State University, said her Egyptian heritage and four years living under the country’s former dictatorship taught her to appreciate the democratic process.
“While other countries are revolting … it’s a shame people have gotten to the point they’re blowing off an election on the idea their votes don’t matter,” Aloumari said.
Kirsten Beasley, 22, of Dallas, said voting is a fundamental right that should be exercised.
“It’s a privilege,” Beasley said. “It’s our chance for our voice to be heard.”
A person who does not vote should not complain about the resulting consequences later, Beasley said. Voting is also a way for young adults to assert their independence, she said.
Obama’s campaign slogan vows to continue “Forward,” but it remains to be seen if college students are in sync with his marching orders.
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