With the political circus still going strong, it is now more important than ever to vote. We know you hear this every year “” get out and vote, your vote counts, be an active and engaged citizen, etc. You’re likely tired of hearing the pleading at this point, especially if you are already one of the politically active ones. But it’s also important to remember that in the 2008 presidential election, those aged 18-24 had the lowest voting rates of all age groups. And this has been a consistent trend since 1962, when everyone’s favorite young politician, John F. Kennedy, won the election. Consistent data shows that less than 50 percent of eligible youth voters participate in general elections. Less than half! In the 2012 Texas primaries, only 12.8 percent of eligible voters turned out to vote. We don’t even want to know what part of that percentage was college-aged students. We’re sure it’d be depressingly low. So if we’re hearing those refrains over and over again, why is nothing changing?
College students are highly apathetic at times. But we’re passionate and engaged, too. We go to classes, volunteer in the community, are part of countless groups and organizations. And still we find time to go out and drink on a regular basis. But when it comes to politics we often fall short. We get it; for some people, politics just isn’t interesting. For some people, it’s their life. Just look around campus “” from the incredible number of political signs on dorm windows, debates on Trinity Snaps and those Bernie Sanders people who just won’t leave Coates alone, the passion is here. We have voting registration tables all around campus this time of year, with people left and right bugging you about early voting, registration and all other political topics under the sun. Most of us at Trinity are highly educated and passionate, and we want to and are eager to vote. Our turnout rates are likely higher than those of the average 18- to 24-year-old. But when it comes down to getting out and going to vote we still fall short. It’s easy to get into politics when asked at the bar or when watching a debate, but getting off the couch and actually doing something seems to prove just a little too difficult for us.
This isn’t an attempt to chastise or call out anyone who doesn’t vote. It’s just to encourage everyone to at least make an effort to do so. If you are an anarchist who doesn’t support the political system, then don’t vote. If you hate every single candidate, then don’t vote. But even if you are uninterested in politics, participating in the process is a crucial part of our citizenship. Voting is the fundamental cornerstone of any democracy. “But Trinitonian,” you say, “voting is just a waste of time, my vote doesn’t count! Voting isn’t that easy, I have to find out where to go and actually decide who to vote for!” Luckily for you, we’re here to dispel such claims.
First, are you registered to vote in Texas? We’ll make it easy on you. Walk down the street to Alamo Stadium and vote. Look no further. Early voting ends today, but it starts again on March 16. And that’s just for primary voting, which is just as important as any other election. It’s easy to pass off primary voting as just another election, but this is the last chance to fine-tune your party. Come general elections, you’ll want to have made the right choice back in March. Second, your vote doesn’t matter? Nonsense. A single vote is just as important as any other vote, even in a state where your party may not be in control. For one, it’s a vocalization of your individual preference, regardless of the outcome “” by voting you make your choice known, and by joining with others who feel the same you create a statement of support for certain policies and ideas. Voting is a fundamental right that we possess; exercising such a right is not only our right, but also our duty. If we don’t exercise it, then what purpose does it serve? It’s easy to pretend it’s unnecessary, but try and imagine a society without voting. You wouldn’t want that, would you? If we saw full voter turnout in elections then the political landscape could change drastically.
Too often we hear young voters uninterested or apathetic: “Politics are corrupt and the system is broken.” It’s easy to be pessimistic because it requires you do nothing. Being passionate and engaged is difficult. But if you care even a little bit about something that affects your everyday life, then do something about it. Don’t like the candidates or don’t like the system? Then get off the couch and go vote.