(Written by Danae King, Staff Writer for The Courier, published Sept. 28, 2016)
Forrest Miller, a senior at the University of Findlay, admits that young voters have a bad reputation.
“The younger generation isn’t as active in voting,” said Miller, who is president of the Student Government Association at the university.
But young voters could make a difference in November’s presidential election.
“It’s critical that students vote,” said Dave Emsweller, vice president of student affairs at the university. “Everyone should vote, but for students who are here earning their degree and are going to make a big difference in this world, it’s really important to get involved in the process.”
Some University of Findlay students seem to understand the importance of voting. The Student Government Association hosted a voter registration event on Tuesday, National Voter Registration Day, and many students who attended were already registered, Miller said. The event, called Oilers for America, was the association’s second annual voter registration event. Of about 400 students who attended, 147 registered to vote, Miller said.
“It was quite a big response,” Miller said, adding that international students who can’t vote in the U.S. also attended to learn about the nation’s voting procedures.
Among students at the event, some said they were undecided about who they favor for president, and others were adamant that their choice is the right one.
Aubreah Manns, 18, a freshman from Forest, heard about the event from a friend and came out even though she registered to vote in her hometown over the summer. As for who will get her vote, she hasn’t decided.
“I don’t like Hillary or Donald Trump, so I have to read about the other ones,” Manns said. To her, Hillary Clinton and Trump “just seem fake. “It’s all drama,” she said.
She will still vote, though, as “that’s the American thing to do.”
Erin Shonk and Taylor Karczewski, both 19 and sophomores, said they are planning to vote for Trump. They are members of the College Republicans group.
“Being a Republican, I wasn’t a really big fan of him, I was more focused on other candidates like (Ted) Cruz,” Shonk said. “But there’s no other choice.”
Karczewski said she likes Trump’s position on national defense.
“I think he’s going to be stronger than Hillary Clinton,” she said.
Both said young voters can make a difference, and should vote.
They can make a difference, because “There’s so many of us, we’re loud, we’re on social media, we make sure we’re heard,” Shonk said.
“This is their future, it affects their life for the next four to eight years and above that,” Shonk said.
Lauren Palmer and Jenn Darling, both 20 and juniors at the university, know their votes could affect their careers. They are both going into the health care field, and their instructors have told them to check out each presidential candidate’s platform. Her planned career as an occupational therapist is part of the reason Palmer is pretty sure she’s voting for Hillary Clinton.
“I don’t really believe that a third party would help that much,” Palmer said, touching on her friend Darling’s choice to vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson. “I hate Donald Trump so it’s almost by default (that I vote for Clinton).”
Darling supports Johnson because he’s “very personable, he built his own house, he climbed Mount Everest, he was governor of New Mexico and he never raised taxes in seven years.”
“I agree with a lot of the stuff he agrees with,” Darling said. “I wish he would get some more publicity.”
Darling and Palmer both plan to vote absentee in their hometowns.
During Tuesday’s event, the student association registered students locally and paid for postage for students registering to vote absentee. Students were led along a table where they could read more about four presidential candidates, including Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Students could also vote in a “straw poll,” register to vote, and get a tank top with “voice your vote” printed on it.
“The goal is to get students aware of the election,” Miller said. “It’s just important our voice be heard, especially as the younger generation.”
More than 250 students participated in the straw poll. Trump won the poll with 37 percent of the vote, followed by Johnson with 34 percent and Clinton with 25 percent.