Democracy for Dummies

Patrick Ruddy
Staff Writer

Voting BoothsVoting is by no means a right. Having the freedom to elect a political representative is actually a privilege in the United States that most foreign countries do not allow. So why do younger voters elect not to vote for a representative? Maybe this problem comes from a general lack of interest in politics, or perhaps they are unwilling to vote for either candidate. For any number of reasons, the fact is that twenty-something year old individuals have some of the lowest voter turnout ratios that this country has seen in any years prior.

Recently, USC Upstate held the SGA elections with candidates running for the offices of President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. After totaling the vote count including each candidate, the number was 563 for President, 656 for Vice President, 526 for Secretary, and 525 for Treasurer. These numbers would seem great… except for the fact that there are approximately 5,400 students at UCS Upstate. After averaging the numbers, the voter to student ratio was just over ten percent. For everyone out there who despises math, this means that out of ten students, only one actually voted. Upstate is not the only victim here, though. According to, in the 2012 election, 23 million young people voted, coming out to a whopping nineteen percent ratio.

So why are these numbers down so drastically? Daron Edouku is a junior at Upstate who is majoring in Political Science. When asked why he thought the voter turnout among young people was so low, he said that, “They do not feel like their voice is heard. A young democratic voter in South Carolina will not be heard, and vice versa for a conservative in California.” This could be a major difference between generations. Older citizens tend vote regardless of the anticipated outcome because they have grown up in times with a much smaller population. In the Democratic process, the minority vote simply does not get attention, and young people always want to feel heard.

Another theory on why young people do not vote is that they simply have no interest in politics. Just a few decades ago, people, young and old, got together and protested the mistreatment of African-American individuals. They wanted change, so they took to the streets and made their voice heard. Nowadays, people are lucky if they can get someone to simply sign a petition.

Historically, revolution in this country has generated from within the movement of young people. If there was a desire for change, then students would get together and make their voice be heard. Perhaps a different system of election could encourage more people to vote, or some relevant issue to the younger generation. After all, when someone truly wants to be heard, they will make their presence known.