Professors research low voter turnout among students

Ben Hauschild

People typically only vote if they’re motivated to vote, and a large number of vote centers does not necessarily increase voter turnout.

These are some of the major findings of Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Melinda Roberts and Associate Professor of Political Science Nicholas LaRowe’s ongoing research.

Roberts and LaRowe examined the three main reasons why individuals do or do not vote, including socio-economic reasons, cost and convenience, and personal motivation.

The professors are analyzing the data to determine the most effective way to increase voter turnout.

“A simplified answer, while still in the preliminary stage, is that a motivational variable is the big kicker, and things such as voting booths or demographics were not as important,” LaRowe said.

The research idea originated with John Siepierski, former president of the Political Science Society.

Siepierski knew that Indiana State University (ISU) had voting booths on campus for students, and he wondered if it increased voter turnout.

The research indicates that factors such as voting booths are not nearly as important as encouragement from an outside source. Direct contact from a political party or candidate can greatly increase the number of voters who participate in elections.

“We can’t change the age they get married, own a home or have kids, but we can encourage them to vote,” LaRowe said.

People who are involved in their community are more likely to vote because laws and legislation tend to have a greater impact on them, LaRowe said.

Voting is a habit, he said, which is why he encourages all young people to do so.

“If you do not start when you’re young, you are less likely to vote later in life,” LaRowe said.

The data collected is still being examined by LaRowe and Roberts.