Election excitement: UB students and professors discuss the importance of voting


Most UB students will have the opportunity to vote for the first time in the presidential election on Nov. 8.

While some students are excited to have a voice in the election, some are choosing not to vote. In 2012, there were approximately 50 million millennials – people born between 1981 and 1998 – eligible to vote in the presidential election, according to Pew Research Center. The same study showed that only 46 percent of those eligible voters said they actually voted in the election.

“It is important that young people vote because we need to be involved in deciding who we want shaping our future,” said Reed Tighe, a senior political science major and president of UB College Republicans.

Tighe said many students on campus “tune out” politics, which he said is a pattern at colleges across the country.

Tighe said he believes Donald Trump understands the youth of America and will change the country where needed.

“We deserve better than Hillary Clinton and her long trail of lies and corruption,” Tighe said.

James Campbell, a political science professor, emphasized the importance of college students voting.

“It is important for everyone, college students included, to inform themselves about politics and government,” Campbell said in an email. “[But] our political system should run on the informed consent of voters. Political decisions should be taken very seriously.”

He said students who have “strong and well-informed views” may want to express their opinions at rallies.

Emily Smrtic, a senior political science major, said students should be more concerned about who is going to run the country.

“The race has turned into a show about who can outdo the other person,” Smrtic said.

Smrtic is a registered Democrat and attended Bernie Sanders’ “A Future to Believe In” rally at Alumni Arena last April. She said she will vote for anyone “who isn’t Trump” and thinks Clinton will win by a “sizeable margin.”

“[I care about the election] because as millennials we need to make good decisions that will positively affect the future,” said Allison Eckstein, a sophomore business major.

Eckstein is a registered Republican and attended the Trump rally at the First Niagara Center in April. Eckstein keeps up with election coverage by watching the news and reading articles online.

Some students feel they are less likely to vote in the upcoming election.

Julia Via, a sophomore biology major and registered Democrat, said she cares about the future of this country, but feels the election has taken on a “negative connotation.”

“I am looking for an honest president that keeps the well being of this country in mind,” Via said.

She said she currently isn’t rooting for anyone and both candidates are “equally bad.”

Via believes Clinton and Trump are not “standing for and sticking to what they believe in.”

Kristin Robins, a sophomore undecided major and registered Democrat, said she would feel bad if she didn’t vote but she doesn’t keep up with election coverage.

This has prompted her to not vote.

“I don’t have much knowledge and wouldn’t want to make a willy-nilly vote,” Robins said.

The public is “better represented” if college students vote, according to Jacob Neiheisel, a political science assistant professor.

“Students don’t feel the political system has a direct impact at this age, so some choose to not vote,” Neiheisel said. “This pattern of choosing not to vote may stay with them throughout their adult lives the longer they decide not to participate. [But] you’re not a bad person if you don’t vote.”

To register, go to the department of motor vehicles website, selecting “New York,” then “voter registration” and following the steps from there.

Victoria Hartwell is a news staff writer and can be reached at news@ubspectrum.com