Students share decisions at Rutgers voting booth
More than a quarter of college students reported in 2010 that they did not register to vote because they did not know how or where to register or they missed the deadline, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.
But by the time polling stations at Rutgers closed yesterday, more than 100 students had visited both the Livingston and Busch Student Centers to cast their ballots and fulfill their civic duty.
They were among Middlesex County’s reported 477,653 registered voters, according to NJ Advance Media.
Students based their electoral decisions on a number of political platforms, ranging from health care reform and matters of the economy to social issues and education.
Bhargav Tarpara, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student, said he voted for the Democratic candidates.
“We are in college right now, and education is most fundamental,” he said. “As the cost of education rises, it is in our best interest to vote for the party that favors that the most.”
Louis Garrido, a School of Engineering first-year student, said he voted for the Libertarian candidates because he believes the government should be less involved with regarding social issues.
“I voted for Libertarians because some things should be up to an individual to decide, like abortion or legalization of weed,” he said.
Similar to Tarpara, Garrido voted for some Democratic candidates because he believes it is important for the government to put more money toward education.
In addition to choosing candidates for Senate seats, Middlesex County voters were presented with four ballot questions.
New Jersey voters approved an amendment to the state constitution that will give judges the ability to refuse to set bail for a person awaiting trial.
Voters also approved an amendment that will allocate part of the state’s corporate business tax to pay for the preservation of open spaces, like state parks, forests, historic sites and wildlife management areas, according to nj.com.
The first county public question, which appeared on all ballots in Middlesex County, asked if the county government should create a trust fund dedicated to supporting cultural arts in Middlesex County every year, including aid for the development and maintenance of cultural arts facilities and sites.
The second county public question proposed an increase in national funding in support of existing women's health care programs, since the state of New Jersey recently cut a portion of its funding for these programs.
Daniel Kats, a Schools of Arts and Sciences first-year student, said his career goal of becoming a doctor affected his voting decisions.
“I had dinner last week with an OBGYN doctor, and he was really big on the women’s health care issues,” Kats said. “When I read the questions on the ballot, I immediately thought of what we had discussed.”
Julio Rojas-Aguilar, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said he chose to vote “no” for all of the ballot questions because he is against government involvement in these affairs and believes that arts and culture could be promoted through fundraising, not government aid.
“I’m more in favor of the individual taking charge in what they want to happen, not automatically saying the government should take care of it,” he said.
Students should base their decisions on the quality of each candidate rather than the party, said Vetri Velan, a School of Engineering senior.
“Trying to see what kinds of ideas the candidates have and how they would promote issues I care about, like climate change and education, is important,” Velan said.