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Student voters undecided, unaware, unsure about upcoming elections

October 25, 2012

Multiple UW-River Falls students are remaining undecided on who they choose to vote for in the upcoming presidential elections.

The focus of this year’s election has been on Democrat President Barack Obama and former governor, Republican Mitt Romney.

One student, UWRF junior Stephanie Kempf, said that she does not think she will vote, not because she does not want to express this right and privilege, but because she does not know enough about the candidates to make a decision.

“I feel like it’s hard to find unbiased information about the candidates and I didn’t get to watch the debates, which doesn’t help,” said Kempf. “I feel like (the debates) are a lot of arguing and then you see people on Twitter or Facebook saying what they feel – I feel like I can’t make a good decision.”

This is an issue that Political Science Professor Davida Alperin mentioned as a deterrent for student voters.

When people, specifically students, watch television talk shows and hear that discussion, or when they go onto social media, the disrespectful talk in these media tend to alienate people.

Lauren Burger, a UWRF freshman, said that she does not think she is going to vote because of the campaign negativity.

Burger said that every candidate comes into office with something they want to do, but the other party does not respect that.

“It doesn’t make sense for me to vote because I probably wont like either one in the end,” said Burger.

She added that she knows she should vote, but it does not appeal to her.

To prevent this alienation, there needs to be “more civil discussion about those who disagree, (then) more young people will get involved,” said Alperin.

This will be the first presidential election in which most students will be able to participate.

UWRF freshman David Bergs labels himself as not completely sure on who he will vote for, but fairly certain he will be voting one way, which he chose not to disclose.

He said it is important to look into issues, like abortion, the economy and international policy and how they impact people from all perspectives.

“It’s a patriotic thing to do. I felt it’s important that our voice is heard no matter what age you are,” said Bergs despite the last bit of uncertainty in his decision.
“Sometimes it’s (why students don’t vote) because their vote won’t matter,” Alperin said.
Bergs disagreed with this, saying that history has proven that it is important to speak up and “get your voice heard.”

Rachael Heins, a UWRF freshman, said that she will be voting in the upcoming election even though, “politics isn’t really my thing.”

Heins said that she would probably be voting just like her parents always have, and probably for the same party as her parents have in the past.

The tradition of voting for the same party, also known as party allegiance, has been around since the New Deal time period after the Great Depression.  But what is unique about recent years is that there have been less people who have a party allegiance, said Alperin.

Instead, people have had a party allegiance, but voted for the candidate that best represents issues or needs of the particular voter, said Alperin.

Even with voter uncertainty, Alperin said she encourages students to learn about the different candidates and vote for whom they would like to see in office.

Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.