Represent! | Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Voices of Young Voters: We talked to college students about what matters to them this election

Sharon McNary interviews a young voter at Whittier College
Sharon McNary interviews a young voter at Whittier College
Kim Bui/KPCC

Could the voice of millennials be enough to change the election? An estimated 46 million of them (between age 18 and 29) will be eligible to vote this election year. We joined KQED and other West Coast public radio stations as a part of a project called "Young Voters West," which aimed to collect the voices of these young voters — what they stand for, why they matter and what issues are on their mind.

We headed to Whittier College, the University of Southern California and UCLA. 

Do their votes matter? Young voters overwhelmingly said they did, and even if they weren't quite 100 percent informed, they wanted to make sure they had their say in this year's election.

For Phong, a Vietnamese immigrant who was just naturalized, voting was important because, in his homeland, votes were just for show.

The direction of their careers also affects which issues matter to young voters.

As a pre-medical student, Elizabeth Matusov said she's worried that once she's done with school and paying loans, health care changes might impact how much doctors can take home and put toward those loans.

At UCLA, a public institution, a number of students were worried about Proposition 30. 

Prop 30 adds 0.25 percent to California's already steep sales tax for four years. The measure would increase income taxes on families making more than a $250,000 a year for the next seven years. If it doesn't pass, cuts in education in the billions of dollars would be automatically triggered.

Even outside of UCLA, education funding for financial aid and other programs was a concern for many students, Like Emily Le.

That need to get more support for receiving education extended to the presidential elections. Alberto Rocha said he thinks he'll support Barack Obama because Obama seems to Rocha like he'll lend more support to struggling students.

Sana Shuja said she thinks that education is not the only thing that needs more funding — women's health is also on her mind.

Listen to all of the voices we've collected: