Vote polling station

With just over a month until the midterm elections, Orange Coast College students are split on the importance of voting on Nov. 6.

Despite the importance of the youth vote in deciding many U.S. House and Senate races — millennials make up 31 percent of the national electorate according to the Pew Research Center — young people typically cast ballots at lower rates than older Americans.

Several students told the Coast Report they were too busy, not registered, or felt disenfranchised or not enough incentive to vote.

“I do plan to vote, but I planned to vote last year too and I didn’t. I just didn’t have time and wasn’t well-informed enough,” Tiffany Pham, a 21-year-old biology major said. “I felt like when it actually came time to vote, if I were to vote I wouldn’t have made the most informed or educated decision so I just opted not to vote at all.”

In a June poll by the Religion Research Institute and The Atlantic, only 28 percent of 18 to 29 year olds said they were certain they would vote in the midterms.

Another poll by the Associated Press and University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center shows higher rates of youth engagement, with 38 percent of young adults saying they will definitely vote and 56 percent saying they are likely to.

After young voters helped propel former President Barack Obama to victory, Democrats are trying to reinvigorate their base by appealing to youth. According to a poll published by Washington Post-Schar School, Republicans are seeing smaller than expected turnouts, so higher voting percentages among young adults could once again make a difference.

Many OCC students are enthusiastic about casting their ballots in November.

“Definitely plan on voting. I think it’s incredibly important especially now for young people to engage in politics because there’s a lot of important issues that need to be voted on,” said Miles Patricola, a 25-year-old sociology major. “I’m very disappointed to see what the current administration has been doing with separating families at the border.”

Several students said they are motivated by specific issues, such as abortion, equal rights for women, having more balance in the U.S. Senate and ensuring that more Democrats into office to serve as a check against President Donald Trump.

“Abortion is one of those things that’s really questionable right now based on who we have in office. Women’s rights, equality and equity in our country, free education, free healthcare,” Lauren Hodge, an 18-year-old psychology major said of her top concerns.

 California’s online and mail voter registration ends Oct. 22, so millennials still have an opportunity to make their voices heard.   

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