Rose student voters discuss their political habits with upcoming election
SAT.| 10-17-20 | FEATURES
Many Rose seniors are old enough to vote, making their political habits part of the widespread voting statistics measured throughout the United States. With only 56% of the voting-age population in the US having voted in the 2016 presidential election, the US has one of the lowest voter turnout rates of developed nations, according to the Pew Research Center.
The main influences on political habits are families and schools, but there are often many other factors that vary by person. These influences are so strong that political views and ideologies are often set in stone at very young ages.
Senior Kate Callahan feels that many factors have contributed to her current political beliefs and views, but they have mainly been formed as a result of her search for unbiased information.
“Growing up, I was heavily influenced by the political party of my [family], but… I made the decision to go out and take government classes and do research on things to get as much unbiased information as I possibly could,” Callahan said. “Just taking those steps is something that I have focused on, and after that I feel like I developed and got my own political opinions and thoughts.”
Since children learn by example and tend to follow the same patterns of their parents or guardians, family often plays the largest role in young adults’ political views. This has impacts on all areas of life, but it especially develops political party affiliation and all types of political participation.
Schools can also have major impacts on individuals’ lives, but mainly in determining political participation rather than political party affiliation. Introducing the political system in civics classes and saying the Pledge of Allegiance daily are ways in which schools encourage students to participate in their community and in politics. Being an informed citizen is also an important part of the voting process, and education on politics is likely to lead to increased participation.
Schools have had an impact in Callahan’s views through the impartial opinions of her teachers, which have objectively educated her on the political system and how our government relates to others.
“My government teachers have all been very unbiased individuals, and that has been a really big influence on my political beliefs,” Callahan said. “Also the way that other countries operate has been a huge influence on the way that I see our country because I can see what they're doing and how maybe completely different political structures are working in those countries.”
Political trends, such as voting habits and political party preferences, can often be shown by the comparison of demographic categories. The main demographic categories that are studied in these trends include education, income levels, religion, region, race and gender.
Age can also be an important and informative demographic trend; these trends show
Infographic by Kinsley Tate White
that young adults are much less likely to vote than older adults, according to the Pew Research Center. Some political parties or candidates base their campaigning off of appealing to a certain demographic group, and many tend to focus on obtaining the votes of the younger adults. As a result, student voters are a much more important voting group than one may think.
Both Callahan and Senior Jessica Balanay plan to vote in every election that they can, no matter the level or the candidates involved. Callahan believes that voting at the local level is especially important since those are the issues that will impact individuals in this community the most, while Balanay is not planning on letting COVID-19 stop her from voting in the upcoming presidential election.
“I don’t think COVID has an impact on whether I would vote or not, the only thing that would change is the way I would vote, [through the mail],” Balanay said.
When voting in elections or associating with political parties, Callahan urges peers to do their own research before making final decisions about people or topics. She believes that rather than relying on social media or news stations as accurate sources, people should develop their opinions off of candidate platforms.
“It's extremely important to know exactly who you're voting for, not just what the media wants to highlight,” Callahan said. “If you have the opportunity, I would say take classes that can teach you the basis of politics and the basis of how your country operates so that you can be the most informed voter that you can possibly be.”
Both seniors also believe that political involvement through voting is a duty, and they encourage others to take the time to fulfill that responsibility.
“If [you] can vote, then vote,” Balanay said. “It’s a right that you have and it's good if you exercise that right.”
Young adults, both throughout the U.S. and in our school, are faced with political choices that they have to answer for themselves. Some of them will have limited involvement in politics for the rest of their lives, while others will be actively involved in campaigns and elections, but the choice is theirs to make.