Decision 2012: make it yours

The Prairie.

The Prairie.

The country will decide its next president in four weeks. It’s crunch time for President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney. In the next four weeks, they are tasked with impressing uncommitted voters. Typically, they make an extra push towards women, minorities and young voters.

However, it seems like all of the work they are putting in isn’t enough. Young voters – classified as people between the ages of 18 to 29 – are less engaged with the upcoming election than they were four years ago. In a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, only 18 percent of young voters follow the campaign news closely, down from 36 percent in 2008. Sixty three percent of registered voters plan to cast their ballot, down from 72 percent in 2008.

The 2008 election season was highly charged, probably due to the excitement of two new presidential candidates. Despite the differences in the country’s mood then and now, it’s still a startling conclusion among young, college-age voters. Frankly, it’s a little frightening.

Other than chatter about Big Bird and an empty chair, what do college-age voters know about what’s going on in this election? How are they finding this information? Are they researching this for themselves or are they hearing the viewpoints from their parents and friends?

It’s understandable why college-age voters may not want to engage. Who can ignore the attack campaign ads, heated political conversations among their parents and vitriolic social media posts? Election season drags. It really does. Every four years, everyone from the political scientists to the media whines about how the process is too long – from the caucuses and conventions to the debates and talk show circuits – but nothing changes.

The election season can be frustrating because the issues can (and do) take a backseat to candidates’ mistakes on the campaign trail. As fun as it can be to pick apart their mistakes, we need to know where they stand on issues that matter.

Typically, newspapers will endorse a candidate for president in their editorial pages. The Prairie is not. We want our fellow students to make this decision for themselves. Check out some of the many resources out there that specifically fact check what these candidates are saying. It’s okay to not affiliate with the same political party that your parents do. You’re a voting adult now. The choice is yours.

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