Millennials Explain Low Voter Awareness in District Elections

Students of UTK said Tuesday evening why district elections do not receive as much attention from voters as the presidential election.

UT political science major Hannah Blackwell said, ” I don’t think that people our age think about how state and local level elections affect us. I think people focus on the presidential election a lot and think that it makes the biggest difference in our individual lives, but really it’s the state and local elections that make the difference.” According to Blackwell, voting at the local level aides in the passing of legislation specific to the area where you live.

The House of Representatives election is every 2 years, which allows districts of each state to vote on who will represent their region in congress.

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Howard H. Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy

Blackwell said, “Representatives in Tennessee have more of an effect on the policies that get passed in Tennessee than the president does….If you talked to pretty much anyone, most people wouldn’t know the names of the candidates or their views on policy.” Blackwell stated that people might not vote if they oppose republican views because Tennessee is a republican state and they feel nothing they say will make a difference.

According to Blackwell, district candidates do not have as much campaign funding as presidential candidates, which results in less advertising and less voter awareness.

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Stephanie Harwell shortly after voting.

UT nursing major Stephanie Harwell said, “I think that the younger generation follows a lot of what’s going on in social media and you don’t see or hear things about local or state government on social media as much as you are hearing about the presidential election. The past few years I’ve been on Twitter and Facebook, and you don’t see a lot of people talk about local elections.” According to Harwell, the locations of voting sites for these elections are rarely publicized.

Harwell said that another potential drawback for voters is the fact that local election days are not treated as holidays when they aren’t on presidential election days. People may not have time to go vote locally in those cases.

According to Harwell, publicity is a huge factor in voter turnout. “People just aren’t as aware. Everyone knows when general election days are, but no one knows when local elections are.”

UT political science and film studies major Austin Turner stated, “I think there is less concern for local elections from most demographics and I think that comes from people feeling disconnected from the political process.”

According to Turner, mayoral, state representative and other local elections are more important than national elections because voters can see the political process and how it can help our lives. “I have recently felt like less people see politics as a source for good so maybe we take less of an interest in it because we don’t think it can help us.”

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