Election Day was on Tuesday, but according to Rutgers Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling, “three-quarters of Garden State residents [were] completely unaware [of] any [upcoming] election.” Needless to say, Nov. 3, 2015 came as quite a surprise to many New Jersey voters.
However, no one was surprised by Election Day’s extremely low voter turnout. The unofficial results uncovered that less than 30 percent of registered voters cast their vote in a majority of New Jersey counties. Essex County, in particular, had a voter turnout of only 12.06 percent. While voter turnout has been incredibly low in recent years, many speculate that this year may end up being the lowest yet.
It is evident that these numbers should be higher, especially due to the ease and importance of voting. By hitting just a few buttons, voters have the ability to alter their nation’s future. By declining to do so, too many people neglect one of their most basic and important rights as an American citizen.
While the country as a whole lacks high voter turnout, college students have especially low rates of voter turnout. For the 2012 Presidential Election, the U.S. Census Bureau found that only 38 percent of people ages 18 to 24 made their way to the voting booth. With the future on the line, college students need to stop making excuses.
Voting is a simple process. American citizens over 18 can register to vote when renewing a driver’s license at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Just 30 days later, one becomes a registered voter. Come Election Day, people go to the polling stations, usually nearby their place of residence, and by pressing buttons, they have the ability to select the leaders of their town, state or country. It is that easy.
Many college students excuse themselves from elections because of their lack of political knowledge, but even that has become pain-free since the creation of the Internet. Most media sources have Twitter, Facebook and even Snapchat accounts. By following them, anyone can become a more informed citizen just by reading their newsfeed on social media. Learning about politics in a small way each day can create a more informed generation. Since college students already utilize social media, there is no harm in following CNN, if doing so increases their political awareness.
College students are usually not interested in elections due to the bland subject matter and it is true. Tax reform is boring. Yet, even if a politician runs on a platform of tax reform, it is still important. Today’s colleges students clearly are not deeply affected by tax reforms, but tomorrow’s college graduates will be. By taking interest today, college students will be able to understand the future they are creating and how it will affect them.
Increased voter turnout among college students will force politicians to take a second look at the concerns of the youth of this country. At this point, many politicians focus on the concerns of senior citizens because they time after time come out to vote. When college students make voting a priority, politicians will no longer overlook them. College students have the ability to force their concerns about education and job creation to the forefront of policy debates, if only they show that they care about it by voting.
Today, all American citizens are lucky enough to have the ability to influence change within the nation. Just decades ago, that was not the case. People fought for years to gain the right to vote and it is a responsibility that cannot and should never be taken lightly. Many countries refuse elections to their people, but in the United States, people are able to determine their fate and elect officials to different roles within the government. Citizens need to take advantage of this opportunity.
Even though the phrase “your vote counts” seems cliché, it’s true. Everyone has a vote that is equally important. By showing interest through voting, college students have the ability to have their concerns addressed. After all, one vote has the ability to create a huge change.