BY CHELSEY WHEELER
Are you registered to vote at your current address?
Voting and registering to vote can be confusing, especially for college students who are not living at home. The entire political process itself can be confusing. This may contribute to voters 18-29 years old turning out at the polls 20% less than voters 30 years and older. We lack the advantage of experience when it comes to navigating the turbulent and frequently biased waters of America’s partisan politics. It can be difficult to figure out who the candidates are and what they really stand for, not to mention how you feel about an issue and what it means for whom you want to vote for. And yet, voting is still the most simple and powerful way to create honest change in our communities.
Registration and voting barriers disproportionately impact young voters. We tend to be more mobile and diverse. It takes more effort to keep up with state and local political issues when you are still moving around from home to college to graduate school or a job. Is it worth our time? Does one vote matter in a country as large as ours? Especially if you don’t feel strongly one way or another or don’t like any of the candidates?
Yes. The reason to vote is democracy, not politics. An informed, voting population is necessary to maintain the integrity of our civil rights. Even if voting was mandatory for all citizens, the outcome of our elections might be the same, but our participation could make all of the difference. The need to win voter approval acts as a powerful check on the government. A larger voting population requires that political candidates secure more of the independent and undecided vote to win their elections and encourages moderation and accountability in government.
Election Day is Nov. 4. If you are wondering whether or not you are registered to vote, you can visit www.canivote.org to find out. They are a non-partisan website that will connect you to your polling place, let you know what to bring with you and help you identify what districts and elections you will vote in. If you do need to register to vote, check out TurboVote.org. Not only will they make sure you have filled everything out correctly, but for the cost of postage, they will take care of mailing your voter registration paperwork for you. If you have registered to vote another way, they also send text and email reminders so you wouldn’t miss elections. As a McKendree student, you can also contact one of our professors of political science who can help get you started.
Get registered! Go vote!