By Jesse Oleson
*For this story, “young voters” refers to the age ranges of 18-24 and 18-29 varying on different reports.
Historically, young voters have had the most difficult time of any other age group making it to the polls for presidential elections.
In an email interview in March, the Department of History and Political Science Co-Chair, Dr. Rosco Williamson said, “I could guess things like they [young voters] don’t see how voting is worth their time and energy…or they are cynical about elections as a way to impact the world.”
A report released by the Census Bureau shows that from 1996-2004 there was a steady increase of young voters going to the polls nationwide. In the 2008 and 2012 election, there was a steady decline of 1.8 million young voters even though there were four more years of people eligible to vote. But, since this report was published, times have seemed to change among some of the young voters in the nation, specifically San Diego County.
In San Diego county there was an increase of approximately 57,000 votes since the last election, according to the San Diego Registrar’s website. This figure doesn’t rank within the top five counties in California but it is an increase, nonetheless.
“I would say generally, we [the PLNU campus] would probably be more right-leaning (barely).” said Morgan Burnard, a senior political science major at PLNU, in an email.
PLNU lies within the San Diego County precinct 330900. From the latest poll in October, this precinct and the surrounding precincts have registered as mostly Democratic.
In 2004, the Election Assistance Committee found that the average precinct size in California had 754 people registered to vote. As of October 2016, there are 168 registered voters in the 330900 precinct.
It can be seen that PLNU and the surrounding community is showing different results than the rest of the county.
The president of the Young Republicans club and president of the Young Democrats club could not be reached for comment, this could be another telling sign of political involvement on the PLNU campus.
“Unfortunately, this election has created a bit more discouragement, and students aren’t finding much value in voting.” said Burnard.
Presidential candidates are aware of this trend as it has been common throughout most elections. In this current election both major party candidates have made attempts to reach out to the younger voters with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton having more success over Republican nominee Donald Trump.
“I think not that many students are active just because politics are complex. Even after being in the political science department for a few years, it is difficult and overwhelming to attempt to understand all the information being thrown at us.” said PLNU senior and political science major Anastasia Leach.
Whether the reason is the complexity of politics or the unwillingness to make it to the polls, young voters at PLNU seem to still unknowingly have the power to change the face of elections.