Education determines level of voter participation
Part four in the Battle for America series
Published: Friday, October 19, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 1, 2012 22:11
Part three of the Battle for America series is available here: NCCU voter profile
Some 18-29-year olds vote, some don’t. But division isn’t along party lines or race or religious affiliation. Instead, the major predictor of whether or not young Americans will vote is education level.
Youth voters with either a partial or a full college-level education vote at almost double the rate as those who haven’t attended any college. In the 2008 presidential election 62 percent of eligible college educated youth voted, as compared to only 36 percent of those who were eligible, but without any college education.
N.C. Central University social work freshman Kendra Jones said she has already made important decisions about the upcoming presidential election.
“I know who I’m voting for. I’m strong minded about that,” said Jones.
The issue that tipped the scale for Jones was women’s rights. Threats and attempts to limit women’s access to abortion services solidified her decision. She said that abortion should be available for all women to use at their discretion, but they should be responsible in doing so.
“Abortion should not be treated as birth control,” said Jones. “There’s too much free birth control available to do that.”
Criminal justice freshmen Destinee Winstead said she is most concerned about the escalating cost of education, and the candidates’ positions on that will influence her vote.
Winstead said she hopes to become a police detective, but by the time she finishes her undergraduate program at NCCU she may be forced to consider graduate school. The financial accessibility of higher education may determine her future.
“A high school diploma does not get it anymore,” said Winstead. “I’ve always been interested in law. I’ve always watched ‘Law & Order,’ ‘CSI.’”
Jones agreed with Winstead about the importance of ensuring the affordability of advanced degrees.
“You can’t really be successful without education,” said Jones. “I know a master’s can get you a much higher salary, can get you a supervisor position.”
Crysta Cox, a staff member at the “WOW” restaurant in the Alfonso Elder Student Union, bucks the trend of non-college educated non-voters. Unlike almost 75 percent of non-college educated 18-to-29 year olds, she says she is definitely going to cast her ballot.
Cox said she plans to vote because she doesn’t like the way the working class are being portrayed as dependent on government handouts.
“I’m part of the middle-class. I’m not dependent on the government, but the ones who do get help, we don’t want to stop the little help they get,” said Cox.
Cox said she recently had a baby girl and will factor her child’s future into all voting decisions. She added that her vision for the future is to own a home.
“Right now it’s kind of hard getting a house. I want it to be easier for her to get a house, that’s everybody’s dream,” said Cox. “A house. I know I want one.”
Eddie Jenkins, accounting and finance junior, said he plans to vote for Barack Obama. Jenkins will do more research as the election nears, but so far former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney hasn’t swayed him.
“If you don’t vote you’re giving up your voice,” said Jenkins. “The way the government is structured it’s the most equal way to get things done.”