Originally published in the October 8, 2010 issue
Although some retirees may avoid college campuses, on Sept. 30 the AARP made a stop in the Michel Student Center.
In cooperation with Students Promoting Political Involvement, College Republicans and the Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service, AARP came to campus to raise awareness about the importance of voting in off-elections.
Junior political science and advertising major and SPPI member Kristen Gierlus said she thinks events like this one are important to educate students about voting and how to get involved.
“We want to explain the importance of voting, especially in an off-election [year],” she said.
Off-elections, or years when there is no presidential election, tend to see a significant drop in voter turn-out, Gierlus said.
“A lot of people get very involved in presidential elections, especially young people last year,” she said. “But it takes more than just to vote for the president.”
Senior Kyle Malinowski, intern for the Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service, said he thinks young people need to take a more active role in deciding who will run the government.
“This time of year we start to see some of the best reality TV – political ads,” he said. “Our generation likes to watch it, but we never really take part.”
Malinowski told the crowd of about 40 students that only about 48.5 percent of young people actually take the time to vote most elections.
“That’s like if, of the 435 members of Congress, only 223 voted and the other 212 did nothing,” he said. “That wouldn’t get us anywhere.”
And it isn’t just that young people have the opportunity to vote and don’t, but Malinowski said that by not being registered to vote, many people have no intention at all to show up to the polls.
“By not voting, we are floundering our responsibility to our country,” he said.
Mary Patton, AARP representative since 1998, came to speak to students about the importance of being involved with politics, both at local and national levels.
And although the event was co-sponsored by the College Republicans, Patton said getting involved goes beyond party affiliation.
“We want to make sure voters have the right information to make good choices,” she said.
Gierlus said students who strongly supported John McCain and Barack Obama need to continue to pledge support to their respective political parties to make the legislature run smoothly.
“It is just as important to vote now as it was before,” she said. “In order for the president to get things passed he needs support. People stood behind Obama or McCain and what they stood for, but now they need people to vote for their senators.”