By: Bianca Greeff, Graduate Assistant
Only 54.87% of the voting age population voted in the 2012 presidential election. In other words, representatives were only hearing about half of American’s voices. There seems to be a dichotomy in the voting process. I often hear conflicting messages; “every vote counts” versus “individual votes in some states don’t matter.” While the later belief may be widespread, it isn’t necessarily accurate. It is not just the president on the ballot. There are often state judges, congress representatives, state senators, and other positions for which you can vote.
Although the president is the most powerful person in the country, other representatives have power too. The president is often limited in what they can do without the support of the Senate or the House. For example, during the Bush administration, the Republican Party took majority of the House of Representatives, which later had a large impact on democratic President Barack Obama’s agenda.
Your vote also determines who gets elected at the congressional level. Even if your party doesn’t win the office, your party can still have an impact on what legislation is passed during a presidency. Additionally, it is our local elected officials who have the most direct impact on our laws and policies within the city and state.
There were an estimated 69.2 million millennials in May of this year, and nearly an additional 12,000 people turning 18 every day. Millennials are quickly becoming a powerful force in the political system. That is, if they were to vote. Millennials continue to have the lowest voter turnout of any age group with only 46% voting in the 2012 presidential elections.
Elected officials are making decisions that will greatly impact us. Topics like student debt, funding for higher education, and the economy all have direct impacts on our lives. Within the next four years, many of us on campus will be entering the ‘real world,’ and our ideas and opinions about it should be voiced. Voting is an expression of your values and beliefs. With millennials occupying 31% of the voting age population, it is essential that we vote for a future that aligns with our beliefs and sets patterns for future generations.
Voting is a privilege that many of us take for granted. The accessibility we have to voting often disconnects us to the struggle, and continual struggle in some cases, from those who can’t vote. I am not just referencing the struggles within our country, but there are other countries where women have just been allowed to begin voting and still some countries that don’t allow their citizens to participate in the voting process. Regardless of the specifics, we are fortunate to live in a democratic system. Why not take part in the process?
There are many resources available if you have any questions about voting as a student, overall information, or want to register in Utah. Follow the news, form opinions, and cast your ballot on November 8.