With one of the most controversial elections in recent history looming just over a month away, many people are feeling disenchanted with the choices before them and are considering whether or not they should even vote. This is especially true for millennials and college students.
As this is likely the first time that many college students will be eligible to vote in a major election, some are finding it difficult to justify voting for either candidate in the midst of all of the current controversial political discourse.
While some have decided not to vote in an election where they do not believe in any of the candidates, it is more imperative now than ever before that voter turnout be as high as possible among all demographics.
Youth voter turnout has fluctuated in recent elections, falling from 48.5 percent in 2008 to 41.2 percent in 2012. Millennials account for around 25.5 percent of the age-eligible electorate today, but less than half of young people overall are registered to vote. The United States hails itself as a bastion of representative democracy, but if large portions of the population are not voting, our democracy cannot truly be representative.
When voting in the Nov. 8 elections, one should remember that they are not only voting for the president, but also for members of Congress and other important state and local officeholders. Election ballots also contain important referenda on issues such as reproductive rights, public school control and discrimination laws.
For example, in the last four years, four states have legalized recreational marijuana through the ballot without requiring any sort of new legislation or Congressional action.
Unfortunately, the Electoral College and gerrymandered congressional districts leave many feeling as though their vote is inconsequential. Despite this discouraging belief, voting ensures that your voice is heard. Communities with higher voter turnout are noticed by elected officials, who in turn award them with more attention and more public funds.
It is also important to vote because an individual is capable of making a dent in a candidate’s margin of victory. Even if a candidate that you despise wins the election, your vote for the candidate of your preference could help to moderate the winning candidate’s policies in order to make it more likely that they will get re-elected.
If the candidate that you voted for wins, then your vote contributes to a larger margin of victory that will make it easier for them to push their agenda while in office.
When asked how many of her friends will be voting, junior chemical engineering major Jessica Ramsey said only around half of her friends were going to make their way to the polls in early November. Ramsey said it is important to vote because it gives “a voice to the policies you’d like to see made” and to the policies that will affect you the most as you start the next chapter of your life.
Since many young voters will be getting a job, owning or renting a house, starting a family and paying for healthcare in the coming years, it is vital that more college students make their mark on the ballot. So get out there, make sure all of your friends are registered and planning on voting. Make sure your voice is heard on this historical election day.