Op-Ed by Jeremy Perillo
Americans across the country flocked to their firehouses and middle school auditoriums to vote for their local city and state officials this past Tuesday. Because elections are vital to the democratic process, we must examine the importance of voting, especially with college students which are typically a stagnant voting class.
It is through my observations that I have come to realize that most college students will not be contributing to these relatively local elections, leaving it to others to dictate the results. Living in a country predicated on our ability to choose our representatives, this is simply unacceptable, no matter the size or scope of the office.
I am going to outline why I think it is important that every college student should vote in their municipal elections. But first, I would be remiss to not present a caveat – if you are politically unaware or uneducated with who or what is being voted on, you should not be voting. You are doing both yourself, and your fellow constituents, an injustice by voting without any understanding of what is going on.
Having said that, I think the most obvious imperative is our right to exercise our opinion through voting. We are fortunate, as citizens, to have the ability to choose who represents us at every stage in our government no matter our occupation, social status, race, religion, etc. Every vote matters. By not contributing to the democratic processes which allow our country to function, you are not only neglecting yourself, but your family and friends.
As seen in last year’s midterm elections, an unprecedented amount of voters aged 18-25 showed up to the voting booths — in the millions! That type of response from our generation is the type of recognition that not only garners respect from older generations but also peeks politician’s interests on issues we care about. Politicians desperately want to seem “woke” (cue Hillary Clinton’s Cedar Rapids video) to secure the youth vote, so let’s make them work for it.
If someone were to say that they had no interest in political issues and that voting would be pointless for them, I would say that they are lying. Every single person in the United States is affected by at least one political issue, but I guarantee you that everyone experiences more than one. From the class sizes in your town’s middle school to the price of your Starbucks latte, who we vote for and the political ideologies they represent will have a tremendous impact on our lives.
Lastly, I would like to point out that no one has a good excuse not to vote. In a world where everyone is connected, finding out what a candidate stands for takes no time at all. Additionally, voting is not complicated either. For college students that live away from their legal residence (hometown), contact your Town Clerk’s office to get information about absentee ballots. It requires a small amount of your time and the cost of a stamp ($0.55) to mail in your ballot.
Change does not take place from the top down, that’s governmental reaction. Change happens from the bottom up, starting from passionate citizens who care about where their country is going in a time more divisive than ever. Keep our American democracy healthy and vote any opportunity you have.