To Vote or Not to Vote? Loyola Students Share Their Thoughts

With the 2022 midterms less than a week away, Loyola students are deciding whether or not they will, or can, vote this year.

With the 2022 midterm elections less than a week away, Loyola students are deciding whether or not they will, or can, vote this year.

Youth voter turnout is historically low, fluctuating among 40 to 50% over the last 40 years while older age groups have progressively higher voting rates, according to the US Census Bureau. In both the 2018 and 2022 midterms, 40% of young voters reported they will definitely vote in the upcoming midterm elections, exceeding the percent of youth highly likely to vote in 2014 by 14% and in 2010 by 13%, according to the Fall 2022 Harvard Youth Poll.

The Fall 2022 Harvard Youth Poll was released Oct. 27. The Harvard Youth Poll is a nationwide survey conducted biannually for the last 20 years as a part of the Harvard Public Opinion Project to determine the political views of younger Americans.

The US Census Bureau counts every resident of the United States decennially as directed by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution. In both studies, the youth age range is 18 to 29-year-olds.

Marissa Lucchesi is the director of Student Activities and Greek Affairs and a member of the Loyola University Public Engagement task force (LUPE), which oversees Loyola Votes. Loyola Votes is a non-partisan university-wide campaign to promote voter engagement, according to Loyola Votes. The LUPE task force is made up of students, faculty and professional staff who manage this effort and believe that civic engagement is a fundamental component of Jesuit education, according to Lucchesi.

Lucchesi is originally from Chicago and said she plans to vote in the 2022 midterm and 2024 presidential elections. She has worked at Loyola for four years and was a member of the University Staff Council in 2021, according to the University Staff Council. The council is a group of Loyola staff on the Lake Shore Campus, Water Tower Campus and Maywood Health Sciences Campuses elected by their peers to represent and speak for them.

“The LUPE team put in a lot of work at the beginning of Fall 2022 to get students registered to vote at signature events and during National Voter Registration Day,” Lucchesi wrote in an email to The Phoenix. “In the course of these events, the team learned that closer to two out of every three students reported that they were registered.”

Sherron Hamilton, a 20-year-old junior cognitive behavioral neuroscience major, is from the south suburb Chicago Heights and is registered to vote in Illinois. Hamilton voted in 2020 and wants to vote this year but said he still needed to set up a plan.

“I think that we as people, we are given the right, especially me as a Black man, I have been given the right to vote back in the 20th century,” Hamilton said. “People fought for the right to vote so I definitely feel like it is something that’s very important. It’s like, I guess a civil duty that you shouldn’t take the right to vote for granted.”

In 2020, 86% of registered Loyola students voted and 100% of student athletes were registered to vote, making Loyola the highest registered four-year university in Illinois, according to Lucchesi.

“As an institution we actively live our Jesuit values through civic engagement, and I love that for us,” Lucchesi said in an email. “In my experience, students are aware of a variety of issues that are impacting our world, and act on issues they are passionate about through advocacy, voting and service.”

Connor Dreyer, a 22-year-old environmental engineering major, is from Kansas City, Missouri and is not registered to vote in his state. Connor said he encourages others to vote if they believe it will lead to change, otherwise he said it doesn’t matter today.

“Is there a point to voting?” Dreyer said. “I don’t see a point to voting because at the end of the day, you’re voting for the same people on two different sides of the aisle. Same coin, two sides.”

Drew Evans, a 22-year-old senior information systems and international business major, is from Cincinnati and is registered to vote in Ohio. Evans said he received and filled-in part of his mail-in absentee ballot but has yet to send it back home.

“Saying it’s a civic imperative is accurate but also kind of misses the point that the entire system fundamentally revolves around voting,” Evans said. “And choosing not to vote is a meaningful statement and can have an impact, but voting is how anything gets done so choosing to vote is more of an impact than anything else.”

In an effort to remain non-partisan, Loyola Votes does not collect any information about Loyola students who are from out of state and choose to vote by absentee ballot, according to Lucchesi. Students not from Illinois who have been living in Illinois for at least 30 days prior to election day can vote in either their home state or the district where they currently live, according to Loyola Votes.

Rue Yin Hu, a junior information technology major, is from Waco, Texas and is registered to vote in her state. Hu said she won’t be voting this year because she didn’t sign up for an absentee ballot in time.

“Texas is really certain about voting in person and I think they have this whole thing about wanting to ban mail-in votes,” Hu said. “I was signing up for it and then and I was filling out the forms and then I realized I missed the deadline and I was like, ‘Oh, fine.’”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott revised changes to Texas’ election code on Sept. 7, 2021 after sustained Democratic opposition to the proposed changes, according to the Associated Press. They included empowering partisan poll watchers, specifically removing measures several Democratic counties have employed, notably during covid, to make voting easier including banning absentee ballot drop boxes and the mailing of absentee applications and ballots to eligible voters, ID and signature requirements for absentee ballots and new election related criminal penalties, according to the Associated Press.

Giovanna La Porta, a 21-year-old junior healthcare administration major, was born in Chicago then moved to Mexico before returning to Illinois. She said she just recently registered to vote and plans on voting for the first time this year.

“Our voice matters and that can make a huge change for our future,” La Porta said. “Every time you vote it’s like giving your opinion and then it can make a change towards the new generations. Probably not us, but younger generations who have a better future than we had.”

Lucchessi said students can visit the Loyola Votes website for information on voter registration, confirming registration, how to request an absentee ballot, developing a voting plan and links to state and national voting resources.

Hunter Minné

Hunter Minné