Culver visits ISU to persuade youth to vote

Emily Brink

Iowa Secretary of State Chet Culver came to campus Wed-nesday to spread interest in the political process to college students.

Culver and about 25 ISU students took part in a round-table discussion in Carrie Chapman Catt Hall on how to increase youth voting and participation in politics.

“Culver is known nationally for being committed in getting youth to vote,” said Peggy Talbert, program assistant at the Carrie Chapman Catt Center.

In addition to the round-table discussion, Culver held an open discussion in the M-Shop, helped college students register to vote and visited Ames High School government classes as a part of his 12-stop college tour.

The Iowa secretary of state is the only elected official whose duties particularly include registering voters and encouraging them to participate in the democratic process.

“Voters between the ages of 18 and 24 years old have the lowest voter-participation rate,” Culver said. “In 1994, fewer than five million of the 25 million eligible voters between 18 and 24 voted. In 1998, only 15 percent in this age group voted.”

Culver said college students are traditionally the most apathetic voters. Students at the round-table discussion agreed most of their peers do not have an interest in politics.

“I think they don’t understand how important being involved is,” said Courtney Schmitt, sophomore in psychology and sociology.

Culver asked students at the round-table discussion what candidates should do to in-crease their appeal to younger voters, and a major response was that the candidates are not debating issues that directly affect students.

These suggestions match recent research findings that suggest confusion about politics is keeping youth away from the poll booths, Culver said.

According to the “New Millennium Project,” a study of youth voting patterns sponsored by the National Association of Secretaries of State, most young people do not vote for three reasons: lack of access to candidates, lack of information about candidates and issues and confusion caused by the mechanics of the voting process.

“I think it’s really important to have a voice in the things that are going to affect us,” Schmitt said. “If I’m involved, I can get things that I want done.”