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Why don’t people vote?

Look for usual light turnout Tuesday in local races

Cities nationwide have problems getting people to vote in local elections. One study from Portland State University analyzed 23 million voting records and voters over the age of 65 are 15 times more likely to vote than anyone between the ages of 18 and 34.

“Let’s not pretend that local policies don’t affect things,” said Phil Keisling, Portland State’s director of public service. “The vast majority sits on the sidelines, and the youngest generation is basically deferring to their grandparents to make political decisions.”

Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope said younger voters tend not to vote in local elections. As an example, he noted turnout in the 2013 election. Overall, only 17.3 percent of Lansing voted. Those over 60 had a 43 percent turnout, while those 18-21 had only a 3.99 percent, and those 22-30 just 5.02 percent.

Will the turnout on Tuesday be any different? Unlikely. Here is what potential voters ... and non voters ... are saying.

Jhané Gill, 19, East Lansing

Will you be voting?

I am registered, but no I probably won’t be voting.

Why not?

I just don’t have the time right now to go out and vote. I’m a college student so I have a busy schedule.

Brandon Lee, 27, Lansing

Do you plan to vote?

I looked at my schedule today and noticed election day was the 7th. I don’t know what we’re voting for this time around, that’s mainly it. I’m not too sure what we’re voting for.

How could a city encourage you to vote?

I don’t really know. I see all the signs on the corner on the streets.

It just feels disconnected from me overall.

Kai Walser, 30, Lansing

Are you registered and do you plan to vote?

Right now I’m not currently registered to vote in Lansing, so I can’t.

Once I do get registered I’ll vote in the elections. I think it is important to vote nationally but also locally, because the local is what takes care of us.

What could a city do to encourage people to get registered?

I think Lansing does a pretty good job right now. My workplace brought people in to get our employees registered, but I know a lot of workplaces don’t want to get involved in politics.

Jamie Gasanov, 20, East Lansing

Are registered, and are you voting?

I’m not registered, and I have not been voting in the smaller elections, but I should.

What would encourage people to vote?

Maybe give some incentives for students who don’t think it’s important, or maybe just raise awareness.

Andrew Parham, 21, Lansing

Are you going to vote?

My first time voting was in last year’s presidential election, but I don’t really think voting for city council or just a mayor is really gonna make a difference. I just don’t really care.

What would encourage you to vote?

Maybe if the city or schools taught us the difference these people make, because I don’t see it personally.

Reena Dunham, 44, Lansing

Will you be voting?

I vote, because if I don’t I don’t have a right to say anything, I’ve got to have my voice heard. You can’t say anything about what’s going on if you don’t put your opinion out there.

What could encourage people to vote?

Make it more approachable. A lot of people are afraid to approach voting because they’re too mixed up on it.

Nicholas Collier, 27, Lansing

Do you plan to vote?

Yeah, everybody has a voice and you should be heard, you’re part of the country and you should participate.

Why do you think people don’t vote?

It always seems like [politicians] come on a platform like they’re for the people, but halfway through it devolves into a scheme. They need more correspondence and more of an open door.

William Dunn, 31, Okemos

Are you going to vote next week?

There was a church in Haslett where I used to vote. I honestly don’t even know where to vote now, because I don’t even like anything about the government really.

What would encourage you to vote?

That’s not my prerogative personally, but maybe they [governments] should advertise more or make good on the promises they make.


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