Editorial: Low turnout for mid-term elections

According to the United States Elections Project organized by Michael McDonald, a political science professor at the University of Florida,during the 2014 national midterm elections on Nov. 4, only 36.4 percent of eligible voters showed up to the polls; this voter turnout is the lowest it has been in since 1942 when World War II was raging and 33.9 percent of eligible voters cast ballots.

Americans are experiencing a lack of enthusiasm for politics, and what they do not realize is that midterm elections are important because they help determine which propositions are passed within a state and which party will take the majority in Congress, which can affect policy on a national level in the future.

Some political analysts believe that this huge decrease is a result of the fact that many states (not including California) implemented new, stricter photo ID laws for this election. Others offer the idea that socio economic conditions prevent people with low-paying, full-time jobs from taking time off to go to polls and vote. The most popular explanation for the lowest voter turnout in 72 years is that the American people are becoming increasingly indifferent about politics.

According to pbs.org, 32.8-44 percent of Californians voted at the polls during the midterms. Compared to the 2010 national midterm elections, this is a 25.5 percent decrease in eligible voters who showed up to turn in their ballots. According to Neal Kelley, the Registrar of Voters in Orange Country, the voter turnout in the county was 32.6 percent, which is the lowest it has been in 25 years.

These statistics are indicative of the fact that many people in modern society have completely lost interest in political affairs that may impact them later in their lives. Many potential voters become indifferent because they do not study politics on a daily basis and are therefore unaware of important political movements or figures, so they decide they should not vote.

In a study led by David Metz, an employee of the polling firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates, researchers discovered that four out of 10 Californian voters were unaware of the fact that Governor Jerry Brown was running for reelection, and that only one in five knew that his opponent was Republican Neel Kashkari. Even though it may seem like the public should know more about what is going on in politics because of the rapid spread of information through the media, most people are more concerned with the latest celebrity scandal or Internet trend, so they ignore the daily news. According to usnews.com, only 21 percent of people ages 18-24 vote, which is the lowest percent of voters in all age demographics; they are so absorbed by their school work or distracting social networking sites that it becomes tedious for them to update themselves on what is going on in their country’s government.

The lack of awareness about politics in California and the nation in general is dangerous because it insinuates that in the long run, elections of all kinds will be ineffective and ultimately pointless. If the majority of the American population is not voting, then the voice of most of the American population is not being recognized. The nation will then ultimately be failing in its purpose of producing politicians and legislation that work in accordance with the wants and desires of American citizens. It is extremely important that the people of America rediscover their desire to be involved in helping make decisions about how the government is run. The next generation of voters must fight political apathy by taking a stance and voting in upcoming elections in order to ensure the political well-being and stability of the nation. Schools and educators should introduce politics to children at an early age and continue this practice of making sure that students are politically cognizant throughout their education, either through offered classes or extracurricular activities. This will allow political enthusiasm to foster within people at a young age, and by the time they are old enough to vote, they will understand the change that their vote can produce.