We’re a few weeks out from Election Day. For lots of folks, this might be a day that’s been circled on their calendar for the last two years. For others, it might be a chance to reaffirm their faith in their party. Voting, and by extension democracy, is the whole basis for government in this country.
The machinery that grinds the gears of government is often questionable. It’s easy and tempting to adopt the mindset that your vote is unimportant or that it isn’t worth the time to educate yourself about issues and candidates. Beyond that, it’s easy to feel as if your personal politics are complicated by those of your family, and voting outside of a familial norm is an unconscionable, aberrant action.
800 words in a college newspaper won’t fix voter apathy or people’s personal feelings surrounding political action. What they will do, hopefully, is provide food for thought on why you have an absolutely essential duty to cast your vote and do so responsibly.
To be frank, voting is easy. We just passed National Voter Registration Day, which resulted in 800,000 new registered voters. This number seems paltry compared to the wider population, but given that only about 40 percent of the electorate tends to vote in midterms, this is no small figure. And it is given its significance by the fact that election victories come down to votes, which rely on registered voters. The more people that are registered, the more democratic elections become.
Being registered to vote is a simple Google search away, and even if you’re a first-year, you’ve been in Colorado long enough to establish residency and thus eligibility to vote in this state. Voting is especially easy here — you don’t even have to go anywhere. Often, voting is complicated by inability to take time off work, reluctance to travel to a polling location, or discouragement from registering. Your ballot here shows up in your mailbox, you check off your votes, and you mail it right back out.
Additionally, researching candidates and knowing where they stand has never been easier. Their platforms, for the most part, are laid out in black and white on their campaign website. Look for as long or as short as you like, as long as your choice of candidate is an honest one.
Not voting is an abandonment of civic duty. Guilt tripping is by no means the best way to encourage someone to do something, but — let’s face it — there are people who died after dedicating their lives to making voting easier for people. This struggle for enfranchisement has persisted from the American Revolution to the modern day, where people of color and marginalized communities still experience rampant voter suppression and intimidation.
The history of this country has been marked by the struggle of those who tried to give you, however you identify yourself, the power to have some say in the direction of the nation. They fought so that we could look around us and decide that if something needed to change, we could change it with our ballot. Nobody crossed the Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. or marched through the streets for the right to vote so that future generations could decide voting was too much of a hassle.
Voting isn’t that hard, and it’s an incredibly precious right to have as a citizen. America is deeply flawed; that’s a fact. There is room for upward growth and improvement. This has always been and always will be the case.
Looking at the news on a national and global scale makes it seem like the world is burning down in front of our eyes. Our politicians are imperfect, our planet is warming, and our president doesn’t seem to have any idea what he’s doing. We are, undoubtedly, in a time of crisis. It is the optimal time to take a step back and do something. You don’t have to become president to fix everything. You don’t have to become a campaign worker or government employee to alleviate the ills of the United States. All of those are incredibly important jobs, but all you have to do is vote if you can, if you care.