Jackie Blandon is a junior media studies major
Growing up, I remember going to the polls and watching my parents cast their ballots. Afterward, my mom would give me her “I Voted” sticker, and I remember thinking about how I couldn’t wait to get my very own someday. I’m sure I’m not the only one with memories like this. But, I’m lucky — I’m able to vote because I don’t tick off any of the numerous boxes that would prevent me from being able to, and, because of this, I get to use my voice for change (the sticker is now just a nice bonus).
To vote in the U.S., you must be a citizen, at least 18 years old, of “sound mind,” and not in prison or on parole. Voting is a privilege in this country. As college students, if we’re able, we need to make sure we use it. Our votes are needed now more than ever if we want to reverse the disturbing direction our country is headed in. President Donald J. Trump’s concerningly prejudiced policies surrounding everything from immigration rights to climate change are directly harming us and future generations.
Our votes are needed now more than ever if we want to reverse the disturbing direction our country is headed in.
We are the ones who will have to live with the effects of these policies long after he has left the White House, so we have a specific obligation to make sure we have a say in how our future unfolds.
A lack of voter turnout was one of the many reasons Trump won his presidential campaign in 2016, according to a survey done by the Pew Research Center. According to Pew, some of the largest groups of voters to not show up to the polls in 2016 were people of color, low-income people, and young people ages 18-29. These were the groups that one would presume didn’t want Trump in office.
While some argue that voting doesn’t make as big of an impact as we would hope and is therefore useless, this way of thinking is incorrect. Even if you don’t believe that voting has much of an impact because of systems that some would argue to be outdated, such as the electoral college, not voting definitely does.
But even with the U.S.’s relatively low overall voter turnout rates, college students still managed to drastically improve their own attendance. In a 2019 study published by the Institute of Democracy and Higher Learning at Tufts University, researchers found that voter turnout for college students during the midterm elections doubled from 2014 to 2018. According to Nancy Thomas, the Institute’s director, these numbers are predicted to have a large impact on the way 2020 presidential candidates are running their campaigns.
When we are voting, it’s important to remember that we are voting not only for ourselves, but also for those who can’t. We are voting for kids who are inspired to fight the climate crisis and who are attempting to right the environmental wrongs of past generations. We are voting for undocumented immigrants who fled to the U.S. in hopes of a better life only to be treated as less than human. We are voting for low-income people and people of color, who are too often denied their right to vote by way of voter suppression.
When we are voting, it’s important to remember that we are voting not only for ourselves, but also for those who can’t
Be a voice of change for yourself and those whose voices aren’t included in political processes. Voting is a precious opportunity that should be taken advantage of by every eligible U.S. citizen, regardless of what side of the political spectrum you lean toward.