Young Voters Important in 2012 Elections

Photo taken at the Apollo on Sept. 17 2012 by Claudia Balthazar

It’s inevitable that voters will start lining up at the polls in no time and young voters are just as important to the 2012 elections as they were in 2008. “Young voters really made a difference in 2008,” said Cynthia Bogard, Former Director of the Center for Civic Engagement and the Chair of the Sociology Department at Hofstra University.

“[If] young voters [don’t] show up in the numbers they did in 2008 or simply sit this one out the only candidate it will hurt is President Obama,” said Salvator J. La Mastra V, Author of 2012 for Twentysomething’s: A Young Voter’s Guide to the 2012 Elections, a Baylor University Graduate. “Without the youth vote he will lose many of the states he won by less than 15,000 votes, 15,000 youth votes. Young voters will play a huge role in 2012, but it remains to be seen in what capacity?” Meaning that young voters were a major factor in Obama’s victory in 2008 and he will need them again this time around.

Bryanna Fabre, psychology major at New York University, observed, “There’s a lot more work to be done, and the job market is still not up… [But] the decisions we’re making as voters today, we’ll see the results as adults because politics doesn’t happen overnight.”

Not only is the youth vote important for a candidate’s victory, Bogard feels that it’s important for society, “If you start voting when you’re young, it becomes a habit.  If you don’t, you become a non-voter and as a result other people make decisions that impact your life and future.” Bogard continued noting, “We need people to vote or democracy becomes meaningless.”

A pressing issue in the 2012 elections is the voter I.D. legislation introduced in 32 states, which may affect the number of youth voters. Bogard mentioned that young voters, specifically college students, may not have the time or knowledge to get proper I.D.

In many states, the proposed I.D. legislation requires voters to show identification at the polls. A number of states have and are mounting challenges to voter I.D. According to a 2012 report in The New York Times, “The voter I.D. decision underscores a widespread push, largely by Republican controlled legislatures and governor’s offices, to impose strict identification requirements on voters. But Democrats say fraud at the polls is largely nonexistent and that Republicans are trying to disenfranchise minorities, poor people and college students – all groups that tend to vote Democrat.”

Reverend Al Sharpton spoke at an “Uptown Hall” at the Apollo in Harlem for BET’s Vote 2012 Campaign, “Vote like Your Life Depends on it” during a September 17th event and expressed his thoughts on the voter’s I.D. law. He explained that it’s odd that voter I.D. regulation wasn’t pushed back in 2004 when there were rumors that said that not everyone’s votes were counted when President George W. Bush was elected into office for a second term. Rev. Sharpton exclaimed, “let us vote with the same I.D. we’ve voted with before. The same I.D. we used when we voted for Reagan or Bush.” Harlem Resident, Roger Jones said, “I’m against it [Voter’s I.D.  Regulation] because a lot of people don’t have I.D. There are people who are old and have other forms of I.D,” He added, “I feel if I don’t vote, I have no say so in what happens to me.”

Regardless of the race or age, “It’s important to have informed voters and educated voters,” said Ariel Flajnik, President of Women of Action at Hofstra University.

-Claudia Balthazar

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