Excuses, excuses—what’s yours for not voting?

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

Remember those videos where comedians like Jimmy Kimmel would walk around a college campus and ask random students questions about current politics? The point was to showcase how out of touch students are with the world outside of school. I remember watching those videos and laughing at how ignorant people were. Now, ironically, I am officially one of those ignorant college students. I never imagined myself being that person—the person who didn’t know and didn’t care. 

Yet, here I am. As soon as I started college, my focus shifted to only include school. My double major makes studying itself a part-time job on top of three other campus jobs. Over the past couple weeks I’ve seen several people on campus handing out voter registration forms. Each time, I feel guilty—because I’m not voting.

I don’t admit to this fact easily because I feel that both the media and this campus demonize people for not voting. Voting campaigns lean on turns of phrase like, “What’s your excuse?” and following it up with essentially, “there is no excuse.” There’s not much room to open up a conversation within that dialogue.

I’m not here to make excuses for why I’m not voting. Simply stated, I don’t vote because I’m uninformed and choose not to use my limited free time researching who and what is on the ballot. It’s not that I don’t want to vote; I just really value making informed decisions, and I am currently not up to speed on the happenings of the political world.

Voting is a right, but attending school is a privilege that carries a lot more weight in my life right now. For the foreseeable future of my academic career, I will continue choosing to study for a midterm worth 50% of my grade over looking up who’s running for governor.

Election Year Anxiety

Confession time: It’s campaign season, and I am stressing. And guys, it’s not even the results I’m worried about (well, OK, not only the results).

My first election as a registered voter was in 2008, my freshman year of college. I caucused in my home state, Hawaii, and was totally excited to experience a big election on a college campus — until I met my roommate. As I hung my Obama/Biden posters, she declared her love for the GOP (and her boyfriend made racist jokes about my man Barack on the regular). As you might imagine, by Election Day the atmosphere in our tiny dorm room was tense.

Now, as the 2012 presidential race enters the home stretch, I’m feeling that anxiety all over again.

When I watched the first debate at PSU on Oct. 3rd, I saw a few familiar faces around the room, and I started to wonder: Who are they voting for? Should I ask? I’d like to think I could have a rational political discussion with any of my classmates, but that isn’t always what happens. I’m proud of my convictions, but defending them to someone with different beliefs often leads to heated confrontations or awkward social situations — and nobody likes that.

So what should I do? I can’t just stop talking to everyone who disagrees with me until Nov. 2nd.  How do you deal with election year awkwardness?