Young voters determined to have their say in 2018

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Matt Schmucker

A sign for a voting precinct advertises a voting precinct in Delhi Township.

Young voters in East Lansing are determined to play their part in changing the American political climate, partly in response to the election of Donald Trump in 2016. This was one of the major themes that emerged in a series of interviews with voters on the Michigan State campus Tuesday.

Ebony Mwesigwa, a human resources management major, was blindsided by Trump’s victory two years ago. “It honestly made me want to vote,” she said.

Freshman Clayton Skinner worried that too many students don’t vote. “We’re a very unique generation,” he said, “so I think it’s important for our voices to be heard.”

Music sophomore Jarod Moyer also worried that too many in his generation don’t vote. “If we all actually decided to get out there and vote we could actually have an impact on the election results,” he said.

Many of the students interviewed followed party lines, often influenced by their parents. “I voted for Bill,” said Sarah DiPiazza, though she didn’t know gubernatorial candidate Bill Schuette’s last name. The sophomore criminal justice major added that she partly followed her Republican-voting parents, “I talked to my dad about it,” she said. “But like I also researched him, and I was more apparent with his views than the other candidates.”

Those interviewed showed strong support for Proposal 1, legalizing recreational marijuana, with smaller numbers of voters opposed. Senior Kayla Hunnewell believed Proposal 1 would remedy the problem of incarceration for small amounts of marijuana. “If they legalize it, the government will be able to tax it,” she added.

Some opponents of Proposal 1 worried Michigan might follow in the footsteps of Colorado, which legalized marijuana in 2014. One voter, who didn’t give his name, said that might not be a bad idea. “People can do a lot of smear campaigns to say that weed is ruining Colorado.” He added that Colorado “has almost more money than any other state to spend on education, fixing their roads … just everything that’s currently wrong with the State of Michigan.”

“I don’t think marijuana should be legalized,” said business junior Connor Nolan. “I think it is a gateway drug and it’s bad.” It was a minority opinion among voters interviewed.

Others were more mixed. Christopher Michael was “Not totally against it per se,” but worried that if marijuana is legalized, “It would hike the stakes up on more driving under the influence.”

A number of voters supported Proposal 2, which addresses gerrymandered political districts. Many knew more about gerrymandering in general than the specifics of the Michigan proposal. Sophomores Michael Cadigan and Katie Mack voted “yes” because they thought the issue mattered.

Others had a more nuanced view. Zoology senior Julia Meeker worried that Proposal 2 “Would give the attorney general a lot of power, which some people don’t want to do. … Maybe the proposal could have been written differently, but all in all I think voting yes … would be a good idea.”

Contributors: Annie Barker, Nyjah Bunn, Taylor Gattoni, Meghan King and Xavier Mattison

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