Will college students vote?

BUNS reporter Andrew Mason (left) discusses the importance of millennial voting with 19-year-old Northeastern University student, Navina Magesh Kumar (right). Photo by Billy Bevevino/BU News Service

By Andrew Mason
BU News Service

With the election set for Tuesday, Nov. 6, Bostonians will head to the polls to fulfill their civic duty to vote. Will one one large portion of Boston’s population, college students, join them?

Boston is home to 35 colleges and universities with an enrollment of about 150,000 students, according to the New England Board of Higher Education. However, young people have turned out in low numbers in previous elections and speculation varies on whether they will vote this time around.

According to 19-year-old Northeastern University student, Corey Dockser, one reason for younger people not voting while in college is due to the obstacles that come with filling out an absentee ballot. For students who are not residents of Massachusetts, such as Dockser, who submitted his absentee ballot to North Carolina, mailing in a vote was more difficult than expected.

“I don’t even know where to buy a stamp or send a letter,” Dockser said. “I think a lot of people just get confused with that.”

Students from Massachusetts who are registered to vote in their hometown also face challenges. They have two choices if they want to vote: submit an absentee ballot or race home on Tuesday.

Liam O’Brien, a 20-year-old Boston University student from Newton, Massachusetts, feels these difficulties that can get in the way of his voice being heard.

“I would like to vote,” O’Brien said. “But I’m registered at a polling place in Newton and I’m not sure if my schedule will allow me to go there on Tuesday.”

For some international students in Boston, these irritating complications are not acceptable excuses for not voting. Mertcan Cokbas, a 23-year-old BU graduate student from Istanbul, Turkey, said he tries to encourage his American friends to vote every election.

“It makes not sense when you have the right, but don’t vote,” he said. “[Nonvoters’] laziness might cause huge problems which they are not aware of.”

Kate Foultz, a 20-year-old Emerson College student voting absentee from New Mexico, admitted filling out her ballot was confusing, but ultimately worth it.

“People think they won’t have that big of an impact,” Foultz said. “It’s important to show you have interest in our democracy and care about our country.”

While some surveys say that millenials will not turnout in proportional numbers as compared to older age brackets, students who are politically active hope their peers turn out.

“Our entire political system depends on people voting,” Dockser said. “If I don’t vote then I can’t tell people that I am mad at the situation because I wasn’t involved in it in any way.”

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