Skip to main content
Humanities LibreTexts

Voter Education Needs - by Sarah Foreman

  • Page ID
    187959
    • Sarah Foreman at Pima Community College

    \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    ( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\)

    \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\)

    \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorA}[1]{\vec{#1}}      % arrow\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorAt}[1]{\vec{\text{#1}}}      % arrow\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorB}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorC}[1]{\textbf{#1}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorD}[1]{\overrightarrow{#1}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorDt}[1]{\overrightarrow{\text{#1}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectE}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash{\mathbf {#1}}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)

    Nearly all adult citizens in America have their own civic duty to vote, whether that is in presidential, congressional, state, or local elections. Some citizens pick a party and vote for only members of that party, others vote based on ads and campaign information on television or online, and some do not vote. The number of choices in each election can be vast, often leaving voters feeling like it is better not to vote than to sift through all of the information required to make a wise decision. I have interviewed a few different people with different levels of political involvement to understand the challenges they face with voting, and what has helped them, or would help them.

    One of my friends is involved with a political activism club at the University of Arizona. This group helps encourage other young people to have an active part in voting. Their main tactics consist of sharing resources on social media that remind students when to vote, where to vote, and important things they need to know. While they do not tell you how to vote, they are Democratic/progressive aligned and inform students about which selections on the ballot would encourage progression in our society. My friend has said that most of the students at the school are interested in politics, but often forget to stay involved. This is why their activism group focuses on pushing students and reminding them to be a part of the political climate because most of the 18-24 demographic at a university would further liberal values if they showed up in higher numbers.

    Another friend I spoke to is a voter registration ambassador, and most of the people she interacts with are in an older generation. She says that “the most common problem I run into is stubbornness and unwillingness to listen”. This stubbornness seems to stem from ignorance and lack of education. She has stated that many of those she talks to about receiving at-home ballots are resistant to the idea, simply because of outdated information concerning voter fraud or votes not being counted. Some people in this group also identify strongly with their political party, and may even unknowingly vote against their own personal values just because they want to stay loyal to the party. The ability to open yourself to new information is one of the most important parts of staying educated, and it can be hard to present information to those who do not seek to have a new perspective. This is why a careful approach must be made, in order to have both sides feel that they have an opportunity to open their world view, instead of feeling like they are being persuaded.

    Finally, I was able to ask my own mom some questions about this project. She is in her mid-50s and has seen a lot of different political climates throughout her years. She used to be only a Republican voter but recently changed to agreeing almost fully with the Democratic party. I was curious about what education she received that caused her to shift her viewpoint drastically. She told me that when she was younger, her family and almost everyone she knew personally in Arizona were Republican, and it was just the way to be if you wanted to support our country. She told me, “in the 70s, the man was typically the leader of the household. If he decided we would be raised with those views, there was no getting around it.” She did not really look into it, but blindly chose a party because of peer influence. As she got older and became a mother, she became more interested in politics, knowing that she could make influences that would positively impact my (her child’s) life. These feelings grew stronger during the Trump campaign and presidency, and she felt this party start to shift away from her values of kindness and respect. In her words, she “didn’t want to support a party of bullies” anymore. She is still not overly involved in politics but as the parties had a stronger divide in the mid-2010s, she began to become more inquisitive, and more active in smaller elections, voting on Tucson’s propositions and realizing there was more to voting than the presidency and two parties.

    After conducting these interviews, I believe all voters could benefit from more education. “Voter guides can help to reduce inequalities in political knowledge,” (Munzert) which allows more groups to become politically active. I believe your age group has a strong sway on which type of education best suits you. For younger adults and teens, social media posts in quick bites are the best way. This generation is busy and wants to know what they NEED to know, right away. For middle-aged folks, I believe the best form of education is either non-biased shows, documentaries, or internet articles. The education needs to be facts only so that these (usually) level-headed groups can be trusted to use their own judgment. For the elderly, I believe the best way to get them more education is by having in-person conversations. Those who did not grow up with technology can be uncomfortable with it and can fall for propaganda and slander, which can push them further into an extreme viewpoint. Having an in-person talk with a loved one is the best way for this generation to trust new information, and an open discussion can combat the likelihood of stubbornness or doubt.

    Information Guide Link - https://linktr.ee/votered

    References

    Tenn, Steven. “The Effect of Education on Voter Turnout.” Political Analysis, vol. 15, no. 4, 2007, pp. 446–464., https://doi.org/10.1093/pan/mpm012.

    Boudreau, Cheryl, et al. “Roadmaps to Representation: An Experimental Study of How Voter Education Tools Affect Citizen Decision Making.” Political Behavior, vol. 41, no. 4, 2018, pp. 1001–1024., https://doi.org/10.1007/s11109-018-9480-6.

    Howard, Leigh Anne, and Brian D. Posler. “Reframing Political Messages: Using a Festival to Reach Young Voters.” Journal of Political Science Education, vol. 8, no. 4, 2012, pp. 389–407., https://doi.org/10.1080/15512169.2012.729446.

    Munzert, Simon, et al. “Do Online Voter Guides Empower Citizens? Evidence from a Field Experiment with Digital Trace Data.” 2020, https://doi.org/10.31219/osf.io/7prz4.


    This page titled Voter Education Needs - by Sarah Foreman is shared under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Sarah Foreman at Pima Community College.