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Young voters should not give up on political process

Published: Thursday, July 19, 2012

Updated: Thursday, July 19, 2012 02:07

As the election season grows nearer and the 2012 presidential election continues to reside at the forefront of the nation’s mind, college students especially must educate themselves and exercise their right to vote, both at the local and national levels.

According to a Pew Research Center poll released this summer, Americans under the age of 30 are less engaged in the upcoming election and in politics than they were in 2008. Among voters under the age of 50, only 60 percent said they were giving the election “quite a lot of thought,” a significant decrease from 71 percent in 2008.

Over the past few years, many of President Barack Obama’s supporters became disillusioned with the candidate after seeing little of the promised change.

A Harvard Institute of Politics survey from the spring shows that Obama’s 12-point lead against Republican candidate Mitt Romney among 18- to 24-year-olds is half of what it is among 25- to 29-year-olds.

Despite the disappointment following the 2008 election, and because most presidential election cycles seem to yield few immediate results, students should not give up on the political process and should focus more on the elections at the state and local level, where they are more likely to experience change.

Many have expressed their distaste for both candidates of the Democratic and the Republican Parties. Nonetheless, not voting in protest is not the answer. Rather, voting for one of those two candidates, or voting for a candidate from neither party, remains a better alternative than foregoing a right for which many people around the world have fought and died for.

The U.S. has, since its revolution, had a longer period of disenfranchisement than enfranchisement. The 15th Amendment of 1870 was not smoothly implemented, and it was not until 1965 that the Voting Rights Act was passed to prevent obstacles to black citizen voting.

It was not until 1920 that the 19th Amendment secured women’s suffrage.

A right that was so difficult to secure universally should not be taken for granted, even if some feel as though “there is no point” or that “my vote doesn’t count.”

Especially, according to Melissa Harris-Perry of MSNBC, if you’re a voter in several states, including Florida, “Your vote
matters. A lot.”

Making voting mandatory for those above the age of 18, as Greece has recently done, is not the solution to the seeming indifference of youth in the U.S.

Nonetheless, the U.S. at its very foundation is based on the idea of “no taxation without representation,” and voting is that form of representation. Everyone, including college students and young adults alike, should make an effort to vote based on an informed opinion. 

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