The biggest issue for college students in this election year is not abortion rights, health care, or the environment. Rather, it is voter turn out. Along with minorities, people between the ages of 18 and 25 have the lowest numbers for voter turn out. Why is this?
From what I can understand the most common reason for young people not to vote include the fact that they don’t feel that their vote counts, they are disillusioned about the government, specifically big government, and that they don’t feel that they are fairly represented. These reasons are not valid. Not only are they not valid, but these excuses can also be reasons as to why young people should in fact vote.
I can come up with one extremely good reason why young people, as well as minorities should vote–the rich, white, male protestant. The government–for the most part–is controlled by wealthy white guys whose families have been running the country for generations. With a few exceptions, their daddies were politicians before them as were their daddies’ daddies and theirs before them. On top of that, most politicians are above the age of 40 with many nearing their 70s and 80s.
Of course young people and minorities don’t feel like they are being represented. As I said before, this is the exact reason that young people, especially young minorities should vote. There is a reason that our government is largely run by such a specific demographic–the majority of people voting for these so called representatives are also white, male protestants above the age of 40.
If young people and minorities are to expect anything to change then they need to be more politically involved. They need to vote. There is some merit to the saying–If you don’t vote, don’t complain.
If under-represented people in America would start amassing in numbers and trekking to the voting polls their major excuses for why they don’t vote would cease to exist. First of all, they would no longer be under-represented.
California for instance has the highest number of electoral votes out of any state in the union. Electoral votes are assigned based on total population of the state. California also has disproportionately large number of minorities than other states. If all the minorities and young people in the state of California were to vote in this election, they would have tremendous power. Say that all the Hispanics in California decided they were going to vote this year. I would bet an insane amount of money I don’t have that issues relating to the Hispanic population would be heavily addressed in the next Presidential election in four years. This is not only true in California, but in all states to varying degrees.
With the kind of power that would be afforded youth and minorities if they all went and voted, they could press major change in the way our government is run.
There are two more major reasons that I feel youth and minorities aren’t voting–lack of choice and lifestyle. Think about our choice of candidates in this year’s election. Are you done thinking? Chances are you weren’t too happy about the choices that were available to you. This has become increasingly true in recent elections.
Dr. Dave May, visiting assistant professor in Eastern’s government department suggests looking at the websites for both George W. Bush and Al Gore. He said that the two candidates stances are almost identical on 90 percent of the issues in this year’s election.
Based on that idea, it really doesn’t matter who gets elected, because they are probably going to accomplish or not accomplish the same exact things.
The final reason that people are not voting in this election and most of the elections in the later half of the 20th Century is lifestyle. The lives of American’s have become increasingly more busy and fast paced. The modern student has to work at least one job, go to class, do homework, walk the dog, go on a date, vacuum the living room floor, and do the dishes–all in one day.
Who has time to vote with all that going on? Similarly, the rest of American society is not much different. Society as a whole has become increasingly fast paced. The lack of voter turn out has often been attributed to the laziness of American society when actually, except for a few exceptions, the opposite is true. Even so, voting should be but first and foremost above these everyday things. You have 364 other days in the year to do these things. Missing one isn’t going to kill you or your chances at graduating college. The hardest part is of course not going to vote, but being informed about the issues so you can vote as an informed citizen. The time required for becoming informed is a small price to pay when you think about how powerful change a large-scale voting movement waged by America’s students and minorities would make.
The bottom line is that students and other under-represented groups need to vote as a whole, as a group, and they need to be informed voters. Until they do, our nation’s leaders will continue to ignore them and the issues they are passionate about. It is a well known fact that politicians will always cater to the people they feel will most likely vote. Otherwise it is like they are speaking to an empty auditorium. What’s the use? That statement sounds familiar, huh. It sounds to me like the excuse the masses on non-voters in the country are using so they don’t have to put the effort into becoming informed voters. Make a conscious decision to push for change in our political system. Together we, as a population, can do it.