Penn State Students On Whether They'll Vote In November And How

Oct 24, 2018

While younger generations make up the majority of the electorate, they don’t always make it to the ballot box.

In the 2014 midterms, Gen Xers and Millennials cast 21 million fewer votes than older generations, according to Pew Research Center.

But for some Penn State students, like Matt Fisher, the choice to vote this November is easy.

“I’m planning on voting because I want to be represented in our government, and it’s how you make change in this country.”

Fisher is a sophomore studying biochemistry and molecular biology. Being from Germany, he said immigration is a key issue for him.   

“I want to make sure that you’re able to have a channel for open immigration into the United States, and I’m really concerned about dreamers," Fisher said. "I want them to have a path to citizenship and to be able to stay in this country because most of them don’t even have a home country other than the United States.”

He said he knows exactly who he’s voting for.

“My local representative for Democratic Party is Mike Hanna," Fisher said. "I’ll also be voting for our current governor Tom Wolf to have a second term.”

Senior biology student Patty Faas has a personal stake in an issue: health care.

“I am a cancer survivor, and I’ve been on either side of different insurance policies. And so that was something that really personally affected me," Faas said. "So it’s been really important for me to stay informed on that.”

Sophomore economics and finance student Ryan McMahon said he’d like to see less government involvement in the economy, especially as it relates to the cost of college.

“Overall, I’d like to see a lot smaller government than there is now. I feel like the less government intervention, the better for the economy," McMahon said. "Tuition rates would be much lower if governments didn’t support banks to just give anybody, whoever they are, a loan regardless of their economic structures and whatnot.”

But for others, like Rachel Ferguson, simply registering is a barrier to the ballot box.

“I’m not going to vote because I’m out of state," Ferguson said. "It’s not that I don’t want to vote, it’s just that I don’t have the know-how of getting registered.”    

Desola Ayoola said there’s been no shortage of information about the election.

“I was bombarded with ads just on the Penn State campus.”

Echoing what many others said, Ayoola said she doesn’t know the candidates, but she knows the issues important to her.

“I don’t know who’s running, but some of the issues I kind of were just like ‘yeah, I think that’s a big issue to think about,’ is climate change, planned parenthood, the LGBTQA community," Ayoola said.

While many said they felt strongly about an issue, few mentioned party affiliation or specific candidates as a reason to vote.

That includes Jay Aposhian, who said his support for legalizing recreational marijuana is a deciding factor in who he’ll vote for, for governor. Currently, only medical marijuana is legal in Pennsylvania.

“The big thing for me is cannabis," Aposhian said. "Tom Wolf keeps shutting down recreation saying we’re not, as a state, ready, but the tricky part is, Wagner, the upcoming Republican candidate, just hasn’t made a statement.”

In an October Penn Live article, Wagner said he believes marijuana is a gateway drug, and solving the opioid crisis is a priority. Regardless of who Aposhian picks, he says it won’t be because of party.

“I don’t care what tag you put on their name — Democrat, Republican — whoever has the right ideas, it doesn’t matter what party they’re for," Aposhian said.

This is a common theme among college students. The Pew Research Center found that 44 percent of Millennials identify as independent, the highest of any generation.

Sophomore Mikayla Casey said she’s a Democrat, but party affiliation alone isn’t enough to sway her to a candidate.

“I prefer to be completely informed and vote based on my beliefs, not based on the label.”