What’s Influencing Your Vote? - Commentary
Emma St. Aubin
estau255@uwsp.edu

University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point faculty members on the importance of voting:
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"Look at what is going on in the world - how people in countries where the rights we enjoy and take for granted are stifled. People are willing to sacrifice their lives to get those rights! We in America HAVE those rights by virtue of our citizenship here. Let's exercise them! While we may not always agree with what our politicians are doing, we have a voice in determining who represents us! Let's make that voice heard! All of us have the responsibility to ensure that our country and our representatives speak for all people. Put in office the people you think do that best based on your personal beliefs." Patricia A. Shaw- Head, School of Education, Associate Dean- College of Professional Studies. Do you feel that for us to be a prosperous, economically stable, vibrant country, we all need to contribute to the health and well being of all our citizens? Or do you feel that healthcare is simply a consumer good, just like any other consumer good(soda, pizza, beer) and that other people's health care access is in no way connected to you? Whichever way you feel on this topic, you need to vote on November 6." Timothy Halkowski – Professor of Communication "Bob Schieffer, the long-time CBS News personality and host of "Face the Nation," gives a great reason we need to vote. He quotes his mother as saying, "Go vote. It'll make you feel big and strong." There's a lot of wisdom in that old kernel." Andrew Stoner - Professor of Communication "Elections matter and this presidential race clearly provides two distinct, alternative philosophies between the candidates and the winner is likely to greatly influence policy for at least the next four years." Scott Wallace - Professor of Economics "We are at a turning point now, and it matters A LOT which party wins this election. The parties are very different in the amount of support they would provide for higher education and financial aid. We are all tired of the negative ads, but students need to use their critical thinking skills to cut through the rhetoric to figure out which candidates would act in your best interest. " Karlene Ferrante – Professor of Communication "By voting, people in general feel invested in their country, feel like part of it, and also grow to see outside the confines of their own interests." Sarah Pogell - Associate Professor of English "Many people around the world have no right to vote. You do have that right, but if you don't exercise it responsibly, you imply it's worthless." Dan Dieterich- Senior Lecturer of English

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The presidential election is just around the corner and most of us have already made a decision regarding our vote, but what exactly is influencing that choice between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama?

Turn on the television and find a channel on a commercial break and you are sure to find a campaign advertisement. Go for a walk and enjoy the fall air along with the abundance of picket signs. Listen to Pandora radio and rather than jamming to 90’s pop, jam to the advertisements telling us why to not vote for the opposing candidate. Log on to Facebook and Twitter during the debates and notice the immense amount of political updates.

Joseph Rohrer, SGA director of academic issues, finds the political ads to be aggravating and uninformative rather than tackling the important issues.

“Students might be feeling influenced by the social media in a sense that they are seeing what others have to say, but I’m not sure how much of an influence it is,” Rohrer said. “Rather, I think it’s more of a place to express their opinions and reinforce those opinions already in place.”

Steven Blank, a junior elementary education and Spanish major, has been watching the debates to educate himself throughout the political campaign instead of listening to the oftentimes biased ads we see on television and the Internet.

“I really think that social media affects the way we think. I tend to have more liberal thoughts, but then sometimes I see ideas from conservatives that I like via YouTube, Twitter, and/ or Facebook and I sometimes change my perspective. You can also tell a lot about a person by what they say about things like the debates,” Blank said.

YouTube videos that “songify” the highlights of the debates and portray the candidates in certain views aren’t always reliable sources for learning the facts, but many students find themselves getting information regarding the campaign through these subjective means nonetheless.

“I always tell myself that no, political ads on TV don’t influence me, but sometimes they really do,” Blank said. “I end up remembering a lot of random statistics that jab the other candidate.”

Advertisements on television and the Internet have recently been bombarding our everyday lives and might be resulting in more of an influence than we care to admit to.

“I feel like ads are effective in persuading our votes because there are lots of college students who have lots of ideas, and who are like me and are easily influenced when they hear an idea that they agree with,” Blank said.

Rhorer has been trying to veer away from the influence of the political ads and is educating himself through the debates, candidate forums, and the screenings of the senate debates on campus.

“I enjoy a good, civil debate, but when that isn’t the case, the entertainment value is a good incentive to tune in,” Rhorer said.

After what seems to have been an eternity of persuasion, it all comes down to one day: November 6, 2012. On that day there will be an immense amount of diverse feelings across our nation. However, after all is said and done we will all hold one feeling in common, and that is the relief that, although temporary, the ads are finally over.





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