Although many students said they voted in the 2010 California General Election, only 20.4 percent of youth aged 18 to 29 cast their vote on Tuesday, according to final exit poll results.
The youth voter turnout in Tuesday’s election was about one million votes fewer than the previous midterm elections in 2006, when 23.5 percent of youth voted, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.
Tuesday’s ballot in California included a senatorial race, a gubernatorial race and several propositions, as well as local elections. Of youth who voted, the majority — 56 percent — voted Democratic, whereas 40 percent of youth voted Republican.
Students said that going to the “Moving America Forward” rally at USC on Oct. 22 affected their enthusiasm.
“The president came to make sure that we know how much of a value it is and how we should do it and make a difference because we can. It definitely got me more riled up — definitely more excited to vote,” said Roy Parker, a freshman majoring in writing for screen and television.
Stephanie Tong, a senior majoring in business administration, agreed.
“The rally on campus really did encourage a lot of college students to come to vote because it became a lot more personal to them,” Tong said. “Having the president come and visit on campus made us feel that much more important, like your one vote really could make a difference.”
“In the future, if we have more rallies like this, with a lot of big-name politicians, it would really encourage another generation of college voters,” Tong said.
In recent months, students from USC’s chapter of the California Public Interest Research Group collected signatures of students pledging to vote no on Proposition 23. There have also been students campaigning their fellow Trojans to vote yes on Proposition 19.
But Sandra Espinoza, a senior majoring in English and American Studies, said that seeing political activism on campus didn’t really change her opinion.
“It’s nice to see that everyone else is getting involved and really cares about their issue, although it doesn’t really affect how I vote,” she said.
Yes on Proposition 19 campaigners were more visible on campus Tuesday than they had been over the past weeks. Amanda Charney, a freshman majoring in theatre, said their manner of promoting Proposition 19 might have made it seem less dignified.
“They were being obnoxious and getting in people’s faces. It was good that they were trying to get the vote out, but tattooing pot leaves on their bodies didn’t exactly give people a good impression of the proposition overall,” Charney said. “There’s other stuff to it besides the fact that it’s legalizing pot — there’s reasons behind it.”
However, Michelle Soroudi, a junior majoring in business administration, said political activity on campus in any form is good for the student body.
“Students on campus that don’t know what’s happening need to get involved and make their voice heard and make a change,” Soroudi said. “We’re the future so we need to be heard.”