By Eddie Poe
ATTENTION FELLOW YORK COLLEGE STUDENTS:
Whether you’re highly invested in the current presidential race or you haven’t the slightest idea who’s vying to become the next U.S. President, it’s time for all of us as a community to come together and act upon our 15th Amendment rights.
I know what you’re probably saying…
My vote doesn’t actually matter. The political system is broken so it doesn’t make a difference. Politicians don’t listen to anything we have to say.
I’ll be quite frank in saying that I absolutely understand any feelings of frustration you may have.
A USA Today poll done in 2012 indicated that 59 percent of non-voters said they were frustrated by the fact that “nothing ever gets done” in government, 54 percent cited “total corruption,” and about 37 percent said politics doesn’t make much of a difference in their lives.
It’s no secret that the key ingredient to a healthy democracy is high voter turnout. It’s even less of a secret that voter turnout in the U.S. is much lower than most established democracies. This has directly attributed to complete political disengagement and the belief that voting for one candidate/party or another will do little to alter public policy. “Established” democracies tend to have higher turnout than other countries and the U.S. falls well below the standard threshold.
As a fellow classmate, I am kindly asking that each and every one of you please take the time to participate in your home state’s primary election or caucus if you haven’t already. If you’ve yet to take the plunge and register to vote or are unsure whether you’ve registered or not, here is where you can begin the process.
If you have not yet registered to vote and think you might’ve already missed the deadline, visit www.usvotefoundation.org. There you will find deadlines for voter registration, absentee ballot requests, and the date of your home state’s primary election.
For those of you who call Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or New York home, don’t worry you still have time. Voter registration deadline in New York is March 25 and March 28 in Pennsylvania. In Maryland the deadline is April 5 while New Jersey’s isn’t until May 17. Also, each of the above mentioned states offer online voter registration so it’s difficult to find an excuse not to register.
Delaware’s deadlines are very similar to the others and also offer online registration. Virginia’s primary election has already taken place.
As for actually voting, there’s a way around that as well.
With Easter break being at the end of the month, most of us will simply not have the ability to travel back home and vote on our respective primary election days. Over break would be the perfect opportunity to submit an absentee ballot request by mail in which you’ll then be able to return. For those of you who are unable to mail out a ballot request before break while here on campus, have your parents complete the process for you. The same goes for returning the ballot.
It’s time for millennials to send a message to the baby boomer generation by boastfully informing them that as a country, we our well past the point of genuinely expecting the world to improve with time.
A study done by the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that voting rates in 2012 for 18-24 year olds were the lowest they’ve ever been, at 38 percent. If young people aren’t voting, politicians aren’t listening.
I know for many of you the idea of taking the time to cast a vote for an already corrupt political system seems like an utter waste of time, but it’s that exact attitude that has ultimately led to our country’s current economic and societal predicaments. Not only is the working world and the beginning of our independent lives right around the corner, but we’ve also reached a turning point in our lives in which we now have the right to elect who will govern our local communities, counties, states, and country.
To provide some perspective — among the 34 OECD countries (developed countries), only three countries as of 2014 have recorded lower voter turnouts than the United States. Chile, Japan, and Switzerland. This is according to Pew Research Center.
Americans, especially young-adults, have collectively taken for granted one of the many fundamental human rights that they have. It appears most often in the Constitution’s text yet we view voting not as a privilege or a civic duty, but as a burden. To this day millions of people around the world are still fighting for their right to vote. Some don’t have the right to vote because of their socioeconomic status while many others don’t because they don’t live in a democracy.
Politicians will only listen when the people they are governing allow themselves to be heard. By not participating in elections, the establishment gets exactly what they want. Are you sick of worrying about your student loans or how other things are run? The power to make actual change is in the voters hands and it starts right in your local communities.
My request to all of you as a fellow classmate is not one that requires much time away from your studies or extracurricular activities. I’m not asking that you become some political prowess, but rather asking that you somewhat familiarize yourself with each candidate’s political positions and agendas. The registration and voting process will be the more simpler steps with the thought and consideration of candidates being the actual task.
As of currently, a fair assessment of the remaining viable candidates leaves us with Donald Trump and Ted Cruz on the Republican side, and Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side. The choice is yours.
A reminder to those of you who have yet to register, make sure you select either Republican or Democrat as your choice of supported party. You may not vote in the primary election as an independent although you will be able to in the general election in November.
As a final remark,
There are a number of reasons to vote and no good reason not to. As I mentioned before, the most common refrain from taking part in the voting process is “what’s the point or what difference will it make.” By checking out of the process, we are checking out of both the right, but also obligation, to play a part in the society we want to see, and leave for our children. It’s a wonder that our country grows more unequal by the day. Until we vote, our interests will continue to be ignored. It’s time we change that.