Students cautious yet motivated about midterm voting

Two years after the election of President Donald Trump, the midterm elections are once again slated to take place nationally.

The midterm elections, held in November every four years near the midpoint of a president’s term, is approaching. This year’s midterms take place on Nov. 6, 2018, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The deadline to register to vote in California is Oct. 22.

When asked about the importance of voting as a college student, Shane Linton, a student from UCR’s African Student Programs explained that “It’s important to vote because you can’t really complain when things don’t go your way, politically at least, if you didn’t have a say to begin with. It’s important to voice your opinion and make sure that everyone is informed about what’s on the ballot and who’s running, so that people don’t vote people into office that probably shouldn’t be, like say, our current president.”

According to Francisco Pedraza, an assistant professor of public policy and political science, voters under the age of 35 have historically participated much less in elections, especially midterm elections. Pedraza wrote in an interview with the Highlander, “We want people to exercise their right to participate in elections. Policy makers are addressing a lot of issues and they often move forward with decisions without hearing from all stakeholders. For young voters that’s too bad, because when they don’t add their voice to democratic processes, then lawmakers may pass policy that is not in the best interest of younger citizens.” Pedraza believes that millennial voters, many of whom have recently come of voting age, could make a huge difference next month in the outcomes of many contests, but only if they turnout to cast votes.

Some students, such as Kubrat Salaam, also from the African Student Programs, expressed her optimism about young people’s voting power, saying, “I think as a society right now, we are more empowered than ever. I feel as if young people are informed regarding [the elections]. A lot of celebrities have spoken up and stressed the importance of going down and voting which I think has really influenced young people. I feel like I am a part of a change.”

Reflecting Linton’s belief that students need to be more informed about candidates and propositions, Leilani Aruizu, a student majoring in chemical engineering and affiliated with the Women’s Resource Center, voiced her confidence in her own knowledge of each candidate and issue on the ballots. Aruizu stated, “I think I am more conscious of who I am going to vote for, especially in this political climate … I know that the people I intend to vote for are going to help me and others.”

However, some students expressed their confusion and concern at the lack of election exposure at UCR. One student who preferred to remain anonymous claimed that, “there has not been a lot of press on campus that are promoting certain props or candidates or just encouraging students to vote in general, while I think other UC campuses are doing a better job of this. I’ve noticed that at other campuses, there are a lot more opinion-oriented students and clubs that are encouraging students to register and vote in the midterm elections.”

Despite this, some students hope for middle ground in regards to candidates. Abby Kim, a student majoring in sociology and also affiliated with the Women’s Resource Center, stated, “I’m hoping that we elect candidates who are more moderate and can take into consideration both the left and right because I think we, as a society, are too polarized in regards to politics.”

For some students such as Pamela Juarez, a neurology major, the stakes of the midterms are high. Juarez stated that, “I am under the DREAM act, so (the elections) can go really well for me or (the elections) can go not so well for me. So it depends on what I have to do in terms of when my permission expires.”

To register to vote online, prospective voters can visit Vote.gov and complete a quick form. After registering, local election offices will send a polling card confirming one’s enrollment and give directions to the nearest polling station. More information about the midterm congressional, state, and local elections can be found at USA.gov.

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