Politically active youth helped fuel the election of President Obama in 2008, but this time around, there is a noticeable lack of political fervor among young people. At least those hanging out in downtown Athens.
Lack of time, dissatisfaction with the candidates and frustration with the entire political process were among the reasons that young Athenians cited for their laid-back attitude toward the upcoming national election.
Although none are volunteering for candidates or issues, most say they plan to vote on Nov. 6.
Erika Kemmerly, a 19-year-old pre-business student at UGA, says she is not as informed on most issues as she was in high school. “I took AP Government last year so that was when I felt most informed, but now, not so much,” said Kemmerly.
She explained that as a college student she’s fallen behind on political news because she has so many new options about how to spend her time.
This will be Kemmerly’s first chance to vote in a national election, and although she plans to vote, she does not appear driven by conviction. “I feel like if I don’t vote it’ll have the same result, so why not vote?” she said.
Lauren Bernales, a 27-year-old employee at Pita Pit, has a more patriotic impulse toward the polls. “I feel like it’s my responsibility and my duty as an American citizen [to vote]," she said.
Despite this sense of obligation, she stated that she was not a politically active person. “I have my beliefs, but I don’t really go out there and actively share it with the community,” said Bernales.
Just a block away from the Pita Pit, T.S. Woodward, 25, chats with a friend outside Walker’s Pub. He treats voting as a given and wonders why anyone would even ask. “I care about the outcome,” Woodward said. Like many busy young people, however, he says he doesn’t have time to campaign for people or causes.
Brandon Page, a 21-year-old Yoguri employee, said he intends to vote even though he doesn’t know much about politics. He could not summon an answer about why he plans to vote beyond a shrug and a few confused mumbles.
Alexis Leima, a 21-year-old UGA senior majoring in sculpture, physics and computer science has no intention of exercising her democratic rights at all.
“I don’t think I want to vote for anyone who’s running, and with the Electoral College it pretty much makes it impossible to like, really one vote, one person,” said Leima.