It’s autumn again. This means leaves are turning color, pumpkin pie, apple picking, and another election. Political elections in New Jersey are a routine part of fall. Each year, New Jersey has a major political election. With State Legislative elections approaching in just a few short weeks, I find myself focusing a little more on local politics.
Although only about thirty percent of registered NJ voters are likely to venture to polls on November 8th, I have begun to ask myself why this is the case rather than who should I cast my ballot for. As a young political enthusiast I feel that I am obliged to be informed on local and national political issues. However, the more I surround myself with my fellow cohorts the more I realize I virtually stand alone. Not because voting in the upcoming election would somehow benefit me more than my fellow colleagues, but alone in regards that I do care. I believe working at the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling has played a role in this.
The Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling’s main initiative is to understand why people vote the way they do and what factors contribute to this. But how can the poll accurately evaluate the younger generation if this generation does not vote? When I ask my peers why they don’t bother to vote, or why they don’t care, I generally receive the same response: my vote doesn’t count. I stare at them incredulously because the legislative election is a directly democratic election. Unlike the presidential election where the Electoral College votes on the president, this election allows people to cast their votes on issues that directly affect them and their community.
Before interning this summer with my local state senator, I took was another apathetic twenty something that cared little about how these elections would impact me. However, this experience was eye opening. Working hands on in my district’s legislative office made me realize that these local representatives really do care about their constituents because they are members of these communities too. Unlike tainted or power hungry major political players, people who run for local politics in my eyes have truly genuine, unselfish intents.
Working as the social media intern at ECPIP has allowed me great insight on to voter’s opinions and concerns on political issues that affect them. How should these issues be any different for the younger generation? We too worry about the economy, jobs (for many of us are entering the work force soon), and foreign relations. Yet, collectively, we still find that people are generally indifferent or don’t care about legislative elections, especially my generation. Our findings have shown that these elections will produce generally low turnout and there will be little change in power.
With this is in mind, I encourage you to vote in the upcoming election. My political experiences have stressed the importance of voicing my opinion. ECPIP’s findings have discovered that NJ voters do have strong opinions about ongoing issues so voice those concerns on November 8th. Especially the younger generation, cease the opportunity to make a difference.
Francesca Conti is a Rutgers student and an intern with the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling