DSU Students’ Opinions on the Importance of Voting … or Unimportance

Voting Day, Voting Day at DSU

graphic by Trinity Henry

November 8th was voting day here in South Dakota. Many people look forward to this day as they feel it is a time to have their voices heard. You may have gotten an email with registration instructions or walked through the TC earlier this semester and witnessed a table set up with voter registration sheets. Have you ever wondered what others’ opinions on voting are and how many college students really vote? This article will give you some insight into these questions.

            Voters, specifically college students, have skyrocketed since 2018. According to The Washington Post, “voter turnout,” went from 19 percent to 40 percent from 2014 to 2018. The Post believes that this may have occurred due to colleges creating ease of access registration and informing students of different ways to vote. Trojan Times’ Instagram did a poll asking students if they voted or not, and their reasons. 58% of the students who took the poll did not vote, while 42% said they did. One student left a reason as to why they chose to vote, saying “Every vote counts!”   

I asked several students at DSU whether they voted this year and the reason behind their choice to vote, or not to vote. One student, Taylor Delgado, a freshman, had some thoughts on the reasoning behind voting. When asked if she voted, Taylor said no. She felt that by voting, people expect their votes to, “matter.” She explained that she avoided voting, “specifically because people my age still have [to deal with the idea] that you’re still a child.” She believes that many would not take her thoughts and beliefs seriously and that whether she chose to vote or not, it wouldn’t make a difference in the outcome of the voting. She “has no interest,” in becoming a voter in the future.

Another student, Oliviyah Thornton, a freshman, had a different reason for not voting this year. She felt that she should become more informed on the information that she would be voting on. She stated, “Personally, I try not to make decisions, especially for voting, without knowing more. … for this, I knew very little.” I started to wonder if there was a possibility of DSU housing meetings or classes near the time of voting to explain the laws being passed and teach about the values of the men and women who are running for different positions that we vote for. I believe doing this would give students insight into exactly who and what they are voting for.

While the previous students did not vote, there were some who did choose to vote this year. One was Miles Paul, a junior here at DSU who felt inclined to vote as he hoped for change that, “sadly won’t happen in this forsaken state.” Many of the students who voted felt they needed to perform their, “civic duty.”

Emma Dahm, a freshman, decided to vote this year also. She wanted to because it was her first time being able to. Her parents wished for her to vote and walked her through the steps she needed to know. She “went towards what [her parents] believed,” as they informed her primarily of one party. They explained the aspects of each party and candidate, and she chose who and what she most believed in.

When asked, “If you voted or wanted to vote, was there enough information at DSU that explained where and how to vote,” three out of the four students I interviewed gave the same answer. They all believed that there could have been more information presented to them to make the voting process easier. Emma Dahm agreed, stating, “I don’t think there’s enough information about voting at Dakota State[…] I had to go home and vote […]. My parents had to tell me what day voting was [and] how long you could vote for and where you could vote at.” Everyone, whether they choose to vote or not, should try and educate themselves on the laws and candidates that are being polled each year. It is highly beneficial to understand the inner workings of these laws and regulations, regardless of your action to vote. If you truly want to have a change made in our state, perhaps give voting a try. You never know who else may agree with you.