SHU student voters often overlook Congressional voting

President Barack Obama delivers a health care address to a joint session of Congress at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 9, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

President Barack Obama delivers a health care address to a joint session of Congress at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 9, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

While many will cast their vote for president on Nov. 8, some students are unaware that they are given the choice to vote for members of Congress as well.

According to Dr. Patrick Fisher, a professor of political science, voting for Congress is significant because whichever party controls Congress is important.

“Keep in mind the partisan consequences of your congressional votes,” Fisher said.

The ballot for president has the highest turnout of voters, Fisher added. Citizens can choose which offices they vote for, he added.

However, Fisher said people can abstain from voting for the president and solely vote for other offices instead. This is called “rolloff” by political scientists, Fisher added.

Some students did not know that Congress members are on the 2016 ballot.

Jessica Romano, a junior public relations major, said she was unaware that she will have the option to vote for members of Congress. She said congressional members are not in the news as much as the presidential and vice presidential candidates are, so this lack of media coverage has left her unaware of who is running for Congress.

“I would abstain [voting for Congress] because I don’t know enough about it [congressional candidates] to make a decision,” Romano added.

However, Romano said that voting for Congress is “a big deal and something that isn’t emphasized as much.” This may be why many students are unaware of the congressional candidates on the ballot.

Another student, Zuleima Montesinos, a freshman nursing major, said she did not know that voters have the choice to cast their vote for congressional members.

“I’m not very into politics,” Montesinos said. She added that she knows a great deal about the presidential candidates because they are in the media a lot.

However, Cameron Wheeler, a senior diplomacy major, knows about the choice to vote for Congress in the upcoming election. As a student from West Palm Beach, Fla., he said he is voting for Marco Rubio for Senate.

“The congressional members are your voice in D.C. so if you don’t pay attention who you’re voting for in Congress then you could be misrepresented in the area [state] you’re voting from,” Wheeler said.

He added that he would not abstain from voting for Congress because every vote matters and no matter who you are, you should vote.

“The President is unquestionably more powerful in foreign affairs, but in domestic affairs, the President needs to have Congress pass legislation in order to get anything done,” Fisher said. “Congress is an underestimated policy maker in domestic policy.”

Fisher said voters abstain because they do not know the candidates running or because they do not like any of the candidates.

Montesinos said that people sometimes vote for their party affiliation for Congress even if they do not know who these candidates are. She said she would vote Democrat for president so she would do the same in voting for Congress. People vote for their affiliated party for all positions because they want their party to have more power when making decisions, she added.

“Even though you might not think voting for congressmen is as important you should pay more attention,” Wheeler said, “because it [Congress] affects you more directly than the president does.”

Samantha Todd can be reached at samantha.todd@student.shu.edu.

Author: Samantha Todd

Samantha Todd is a journalism major at Seton Hall University where she serves as News Copy Editor of The Setonian. In addition, Todd received the Tim O’Brien Journalism Scholarship. You can follow Todd on Twitter @SamanthaLTodd.

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