Students have power, but will they use it?

Alex Davis could not wait for the day when he would vote in his first presidential election.  

He registered before the 2008 election in his hometown of Waterbury and was thrilled to vote as he began his freshman year at Castleton. The presidential race that year was very exciting on campus.

 “I was in Huden one night and we had the election on the big TV, and it was the fullest I’ve ever seen the Spartan room,” said Davis as he laughingly remembered the evening. “All the chairs were taken; pretty much all the standing space was taken.”  

And when Sen. John McCain finally conceded the race, “everyone just started screaming, it was great.”

AlthoughDavis was excited to vote, according to the United States Census Bureau, only 49 percent of people in the 18 to 24 year-old demographic joined him voting in the last presidential election.

And that was actually up 2 percent from the 2004 election.

If people like New Hampshire State House speaker William O’Brien get their way, college students would not be able to vote in elections.

He especially disapproves of out-of-state students voting in town elections.

 “[They take] away the town’s ability to govern itself,” said O’Brien in a story from the University of Mary Washington’s school newspaper, The Bullet.

As a Castleton student and leader of a student voting registration group, Erica Bilodeau has a problem with O’Brien’s thoughts.

“I would be against that,” said Bilodeau, adding that people in that demographic are “really affected by the outcome of the election.”

With only 2,945 registered voters in the town of Castleton and a school population of about 2,000 students (here) at the college, students could almost outvote townspeople.

But realistically that’ won’t ever happen, according toCastleton Town Clerk Katie Thornblade.

Thornblade can remember “literally only a handful” ofstudents ever voting in Castleton on local town issues.

Richard Clark, a professor at Castleton and director of the Castleton Polling Institute, also downplayed the idea of students swinging an election.

Clark detailed how students, if they do vote, tend to ignore local issues.

“Students vote in the presidential race, they may vote in the senate race, but once you get lower in the ticket you see more of what we call an under vote… a lot of times they’re not actually voting in those elections,” he said.

A way to fix that, sources say, would be for students to know more about the races and why they should vote.

“People are not as informed as they should be, said Bilodeau.

Sociology professor David Ellenbrook, agrees, and has a theory why.

“They do not see the pertinence of it,” said Ellenbrook.

Davis agrees.

“I think it’s something most students don’t concern themselves with,” said Davis.

Luckily students can rest easy when it comes to whether that right would be taken away as O’Brien has suggested.

Clark noted that constitutionally, it was a right given to people 18 years old in the 26th Amendment.       

“Legally, one the age of 18 is an emancipated adult,” said Ellenbrook.

That is music to the ears of people like Bilodeau and Davis, who look forward to going to the polls.

“I’ll never forget it,” said Davis, laughingly recalling the Huden event. “I think there were a few McCain supporters who just got up and left.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous post Huden hosts Localvore Challenge
Next post Music review: Man Overboard