Election season makes its way to 2020. As early voting begins and voting day falls right around the corner, you may find yourself questioning whether you should vote. If you can’t decide, or if you know someone who can’t, we encourage you to read through this article and try to grasp the idea of why voting matters. More specifically we want to hone in on why your vote, as a college student, matters. Our ideas hold the potential to embody what future generations will inherit. We hold an opportunity that not all countries have. Embrace it to the fullest. One way you can do this is by voting.
Read on to understand why your vote, as a college student, is so important.
Voting where it matters the most
Before breaking it down further, keep in mind there are other elections than just the presidential one. Oftentimes we associate voting with the idea of electing a president every four years. However, voting goes beyond just the federal level. For college students, this is something to keep in mind, as local elections dictate the way your hometown or college town will operate politically. “I stress the importance of local elections because they often affect us most directly,” Southeastern University junior Nathalie Rincon said. “I urge my friends to learn about their local politicians to participate in local government because that’s often where we’ll see things get done the most.” Although the presidential election is the most emphasized, voting in local elections matters just as much. You hold the potential to vote for what you want your everyday life to look like.
Participating in Democracy
Once you reach the age where you can vote, you also need to understand the reason you vote. If this marks your first time voting, an important takeaway from the experience stands as practicing your democratic rights. “It’s one of the most efficient ways by which people can articulate their political interest,” said Carlos Suárez Carrasquillo, a political science lecturer at the University of Florida. Voting serves as a physical way of expression. In a way, you can input your opinions through your vote. If you seek change within your community, voting can serve as one step closer to reaching it.
Voting is more effective than you think
When you understand your way around the ballot and not just who, but what you are voting for, you may see the importance. Policies, laws and amendments can all impact your future, especially as a college student. “College debt is a Federal policy and policies can be changed,” Suárez Carrasquillo said. Keep that in mind. Think about what actually impacts you in the long run and decide how you would like to see things operate differently. When you really understand what you vote for, it might make much more sense to vote.
You’re more educated than you think
As we enter adulthood, believe it or not, we can make our own decisions and form our own opinions. Don’t think you lack the knowledge to vote. “Students constitute a significant portion of citizens, and more importantly, as they are educated and aware of developments in our polity and society, they can take an informed decision while electing candidates to office,” said Debidatta Aurobinda Mahapatra, a professor at the University of Central Florida School of Politics, Security and International Affairs. Now, more than ever, the means to educate yourself exist in so many places. Our generation continues to educate itself on modern-day issues as well as political ideas and the drive for change. If you feel unsure of what the ballot entails, don’t let it intimidate your decision to vote.
You can lead by example
Maybe your friends and family members fall under the same indecisive state as you. Lead by example. Your voting could impact their decision to also vote. “Students should not only make an informed decision to vote, but also encourage their family members, friends, and neighbors to vote,” Mahapatra said. “They should play a role in educating those who are interested in voting. I believe students play a critical role in building a peaceful and vibrant democracy.” You want to show people that you understand the importance of voting and perhaps convince them that practicing the right to vote allows us to fulfill our democratic roles. If no one around you never received the opportunity to vote, you can be the one to change that. If you surround yourself with people who may not find voting as important as it really is, take the initiative to prove them otherwise.
Your future is in your hands
Since the presidential election happens every four years, many of us new to college never voted before, or if so, only a few times. You might only know what your parents know, as you lived with them for basically your whole life until college. But keep in mind that your future is in your hands when it comes to your vote. “Your votes matter a lot because by voting you are not only electing officials to the offices but also you are deciding your future,” Mahapatra said. “At an immediate level, your voting can shape government decisions on financial aid or student loans, but from a larger perspective it will also shape the direction the country will move, the type of leadership you want, and also domestic and international issues.” Keep in mind that how you vote could potentially shape the way you and your future family’s lives will look.
All in all, if you still find yourself struggling one how to vote or if you should vote, reach out to professionals that can help. Professors, local government offices, websites and maybe some of your fellow students would gladly help out. “Honestly, I believe a lot of blame placed on young people for not voting is misplaced,” Rincon said. “They were never educated. It’s often challenging to figure out how to register for first-time voters. However, I think one thing we can do within ourselves is to learn the process and educate one another and provide support and guidance throughout the process.” You don’t need to walk into the booth feeling misguided. There is still time to educate yourself, reach out for help and most importantly, vote.