Get out and vote

More students should contribute to primary, general election

By on February 4, 2016

Primary voting season for the 2016 presidential election is finally underway. After over six months of democratic and republican debates, residents of Iowa began determining who will represent each party in November’s general election on Monday.

If you planned on voting in Iowa, you’ve already lost your chance to contribute to the primary. If you can vote in any other state, though, you still have an opportunity.

I’m not going to try and convince you to support a certain candidate or vote on a certain party’s ballot – and this piece won’t give any indication of my voting preferences. In fact, I won’t even mention any of the candidates in this piece.

I’m writing this to serve one purpose: to implore you to vote. It doesn’t matter who you vote for; it doesn’t matter why you vote for them. What matters is that you give a voice to your generation.

I understand that sounds cliche. You hear people say things along those lines all the time. “It’s your right to vote,” and “every vote counts” will be two of the most overused phrases in society between now and November.

So let me try and convince you to vote in a different way, with an argument that has some substance.

According to the US Census Bureau, voters between 18 and 24 have voted at lower rates than all other age groups in every single presidential election over the past 52 years, dating back to 1962. The Bureau’s data also shows that the same age group, on average, will turn out less than half of its populace in 2016’s national election. Only 38 percent of eligible 18 to 24-year-old people voted in the 2012 election.

But college students are an important voting bloc in most elections, and can often swing an overall result.

If you don’t believe me, you should look back at the results from Connecticut’s second congressional district election in 2006. Democratic candidate Joe Courtney won that election, and is still in office today. He topped republican Rob Simmons by just 83 votes, while the turnout at the UConn polling place was just over 800 people, according to Rock the Vote’s study in 2007. Typically, a majority of college students who vote tend to lean toward voting for the democratic nominees, likely contributing to Courtney’s victory.

I dare you to try and tell either Courtney or Simmons that the college vote doesn’t matter.

You might be thinking that this was only a local election, and that your vote in the national election still doesn’t matter. But consider this: over 20 million people attended American colleges and universities in 2015, per the National Center for Education Statistics. Just over 129 million people voted in the 2012 election, so college students could represent a large number of voters.

For many of you, like myself, you’re only a few months away from graduating. This means you’ll likely be getting a job, paying bills, owning property and paying health care sooner rather than later. Who knows, you might even be starting a family soon.

So you should be concerned with where candidates stand on issues like student loans, private vs. public health care, taxes, the economy, marriage and even foreign policy.

College-aged voters are more diverse than any other group of people in this country. We come from all different types of backgrounds.

The bottom line is that we’re all in college for the same reasons. We want to expand our minds, to challenge ourselves, to get an education and, ultimately, land a job in a desired field of study. We’re all in college to take control of our life.

So learn about each candidate. Consider their policies, and make decisions for yourself.

And when the time comes to further empower yourself, don’t skip the chance to vote. Nobody likes a hypocrite.

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About Nick Solari

Web Editor
Email: editor@quchronicle.com
Twitter: @solari_nick
Year: 2016
Major: Print journalism