According to the United States Census Bureau, there were 4.6 million more voters in the 2016 election than there were in the 2012 election. The census says a majority of these voters were 65-years-old or older.
World Population Review shows that Hattiesburg has a high population of college-aged students and young adults. Ballotpedia also shows that Hattiesburg has a higher population than most cities in Mississippi.
Senior English licensure major Jaq Jefcoat believes it is important for college students to go out and vote. Jefcoat said he tries to vote in every election that is held.
“Here on campus, especially if you live in the Hattiesburg area, it is important to learn where your voting station is and if you are registered to vote,” Jefcoat said. “People might think their vote does not count, but it does in the big scheme of things.”
Junior international studies major Helen Greene has not voted in any elections because she is not registered to vote.
“I have not registered to vote because the year I turned 18-years-old I went abroad,” Greene said. “My dad told me not to register to vote until I have a permanent residence so that is what I am waiting on.”
Greene said she thinks it is very important to vote, especially in local elections because, in her opinion, local elections are more important than national elections.
Freshman marine biology major Sarah Toepfer is registered to vote in Louisiana. Toepfer said she is not an active voter because she does not live in Louisiana at the moment
“I do not know if I can register to vote in Mississippi so I need to do research on that, Toepfer said. “To be honest, I probably would not vote in general elections in Mississippi because I feel like I do not have a lot of time to research candidates.”
Toepfer said she would want to research a candidate instead of voting for someone based on their party.
Jefcoat said basic research on candidates would be a good start on getting involved in politics.
“I would search for things you care about,” Jefcoat said. “If you are into education, marijuana or LGBTQ rights, find things you are interested in and see what candidates think about that.”
Toepfer said she believes voting is important because the candidate is who will be running where you live and creating the laws of where you live.
“I am involved with conservation so I want to vote for someone that has the same ideals and beliefs as me, like the same governing beliefs as me,” Toepfer said.
Greene said voting without a knowledge of who you are voting for is worse than not voting. She said it is important to be politically aware and know when the elections are.
Jefcoat said he believes everyone should try to vote. “The only excuse not to vote is if you hate every candidate and you want to go with the lesser of two evils,” Jefcoat said.
He said everyone has a voice and not voting is basically condoning everything that is about to happen and how it affects you.
Klaria Holmes also contributed to this article.