UM students contemplate hot-button issues

Voting sign outside a voting location in Alabama during the 2017 election. Photo credit: Terri Sewell, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The young generation of the 21st century has played a large role in the creation and execution of many recent social movements. Whether it’s marching for gun reform or abortion rights, those under 30 have found a way to voice their political opinions, without participating in elections.

“Young people are the most affected by many issues,” says U.S. Congressional candidate, Annette Taddeo. “We probably wouldn’t be in a lot of the issues we face today if the youth voted.”

Young Americans consistently report low voter turnout, despite recent increases since 2016. Only 47% of voters, ages 18-34, voted in November 2020, while the senior vote, 65+, turned out at 72%, as a share of the voter population. For reasons ranging from lack of time and interest to a consistent decline in trust in the government, most of the young generation, specifically college students have an excuse for not voting.

The midterm elections take place in the middle of the president’s four year term, on the first Tuesday of the month of November. This year all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 out of the 100 seats in the Senate are being decided by the election occurring on Tuesday, November 8, 2022.

Multiple initiatives surrounding voting focus on efforts in mobilizing voters, specifically young voters. The Butler Center at the University of Miami oversees Get Out the Vote, a student-led initiative whose goal is mobilizing students, faculty and staff to “get out the vote,” from registration to election day. This year GOTV registered over 700 students, faculty and staff. In their mobilization efforts they hope to grow an inviting culture that makes voting easy. With on campus polling locations and informative emails being sent out, GOTV hopes to make it clear to all personnel on campus that voting is in their reach.

Seven students at the University of Miami spoke with The Hurricane about their voting plans this year, and the issues that motivated their decisions.

Emily Danzinger, a second-year student studying political science and international relations has said she will be voting in this year’s midterm elections. Affiliated with the Democratic party, Danzinger is currently focused on issues of women’s healthcare rights, gun control, and high insurance rates. In addition to her political beliefs, Danzinger is a firm believer in the power of voting to create change.

“I don’t think I have the importance to tell people what issues they should focus on. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and concerns, and it’s not my place to step over them” Danzinger said. “What I will say though, is to vote. Vote even if you’re not super passionate about the candidates. Use your voice to advocate for the issues you believe in.”

Sophia Torres is a third-year student studying health management policy and public health who wants to see change in the approach to solving climate change.

“It’s affecting our society overall and I think it’s going to make a bigger impact over time if we don’t solve it,” Torres said.

Torres is a registered independent and plans to vote in the upcoming election.

Kyle Sullivan, a third-year finance major, sees the economy as the central issue as he approaches the ballot box this year.

“I feel like people are trying to combat inflation while also signing in laws that put more money into the hands of the people; which don’t go hand in hand,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan is a registered Republican who will be voting in this year’s midterm elections.

As expected, some students will not be casting a ballot on Election Day. When asked if she will be voting in the election this year, Rebecca Menedez, a third-year student studying biomedical engineering said, “If I’m honest with you, I do not think so, I don’t think I was planning on it.” Menendez shared that her decision not to vote is rooted in a mindset of not wanting to “just go in blindly and vote on things that I’m not ready to make a decision on.”

“Now that I’ve started college I definitely want to be more politically aware and know what’s happening in my community and in my state and things like that.” said Menendez. “So it’s been something I’ve been thinking about, but I guess I haven’t been active or aware.”

Romina Dominguez, a second-year student studying Political Science and English, is not affiliated with any party and will be voting in the upcoming election. Dominguez is focused on women’s reproductive rights, gun violence and access to healthcare this election cycle.

Andres Castellanos, a fourth-year student studying Economics on the Pre-Law track, is a registered independent and will be voting this year.

“Issues that are important are preserving democracy and respecting electoral outcomes. There are too many election deniers in our politics and that is a dangerous game.” Castellanos said. “Another issue is a women’s right to choose. For the first time in American history a right that was granted has been taken away. This could open the door to other rights being taken away by the Supreme Court if Congress doesn’t act.”

Brad Barker is a second-year student studying Finance. Barker is a registered Republican who will be voting in the midterm elections. This cycle Barker is focused on Inflation, Oil prices, Fentanyl crisis, and eliminating big tech monopolies and censorship.

As Emily Danzinger said, “A lot of politicians don’t prioritize the views of voters 18-25 because we have the lowest voter turnout rate. Let’s change that.”

Early voting in the state of Florida is open from October 26 to November 6. The 2022 midterm elections will take place Tuesday, November 8.