Ole Miss students, faculty enthusiastic about midterm elections

Posted on Nov 1 2018 - 5:50am by Mary Liz King and Jake Davis

About half of the 101 Ole Miss students and faculty who were surveyed on Tuesday said they plan to vote in next week’s midterm election.

In a random survey of 101 students and faculty, 76 people said they are registered to vote. Of those 76 registered respondents, 51 people reported that they intend to vote in the upcoming election. Of the full sample, 25 students said they were not registered to vote.

The results generally reflect national trends regarding the upcoming midterm elections, which predict a 40 percent turnout among young voters, according to a survey conducted by the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Students and staff offered varied reasons for why they did not register to vote, with the most cited being that they didn’t have time, or they simply did not find registering to be a priority.

Among those unregistered, misinformation seemed to be a common denominator.

Out-of-state students, in particular, expressed significant confusion about voter registration rules, with several assuming the hurdles in registration are tougher than they actually are.

To be an eligible voter in Mississippi, one must be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years old and a resident of the state and a particular county within the state for at least 30 days.

However, the registered students and staff seem enthusiastic about the prospects of taking part in the upcoming election.

Junior law studies major Drew Sargent said that although his political opinions are different from the majority of voters in the South, he still thinks voting is essential.

“Despite being young, the representatives in office still represent me,” Sargent said. “I feel it’s monumental that young voters encourage other young eligible voters. Teach, educate, advocate.”

Others said it is their civic duty to take part in national elections, and there is a sense of patriotism associated with voting.

“It is my right, and that’s just what I believe I need to do as a United States citizen,” said junior psychology major Tift Palmer.

Other students and staff said voter turnout is essential to the democratic process, and elections will benefit from younger voter participation.

“The democratic process requires informed and active voters to remain salient,” said Brandon McLeod, International Scholar Advisor at the University of Mississippi.

John Lobur, associate professor of classics, said it is essential to make sure the average person can vote to ensure that elections represent the needs of average Americans.

“I hope all young people will get out and vote,” he said. “They are the generation that is the future of the democratic process.”

Historically, young people fail to turn out to vote at the same rate as older American voters.

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, Generation X (those born between the late 1960s and early 1980s) and younger generations contained 135 million people eligible to vote in 2018, compared to just 93 million Baby Boomers (born between the end of World War II and the 1960s) and older generations.

However, despite this significant gap in the number of eligible voters, younger voters are still underrepresented in election turnouts. For example, in 2014 older generations cast 21 million more ballots than their younger counterparts.

A poll conducted by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics reported that 40 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 say they will “definitely vote” in the midterm election next week.

“Since 1986, based on data collected and analyzed by the U.S. Census, the only times that midterm turnout among young Americans surpassed 20 percent was in 1986 (21 percent) and 1994 (21 percent),” the study reads.

While results of this poll are usually much higher than the actual turnout in midterm elections, if participation reaches even 22 percent among voters under 30, it would be a 32 year high.