On Monday, elections for public office were held throughout the United States. Thirty-six states held elections for governor. One-third of U.S. Senate seats and all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives were contested. Numerous state and local elections were also held.
For the average Snow College student, voting may be lower on the priority list, taking a backseat to maintaining good grades, passing the next exam or having an active social life. Yet being part of the political process is as vital now as it will be after graduation. Students have the right and responsibility to make their voices heard locally, statewide, and nationally.
A student who does not exercise the right to vote has no say in laws he or she wants passed or how government policy is shaped. While non-voters may think their individual vote does not matter, they forget what happens when large numbers of people have the same idea. The Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington D.C. based research organization, reported a nationwide average voter turnout of 57.5% for the 2012 presidential elections. That means 42.5% of all voting age people in the U.S. at the time, about 90 million or so, did not vote.
FairVote, another research center, reported that since 2000, even fewer people vote in midterm elections. About 60% of eligible voters, or 125 million people, did not vote. The same organizations indicated that about 20% of eligible voters are college-age, a percentage large enough to make a difference in any election.
Simply voting for the candidate with the best publicity is not enough either. Responsible voting requires the voter to research the candidates’ stance on issues the voter considers important, be they social, economic or political. Candidates who are seeking reelection should also be evaluated on how well they kept promises previously made when they took office.
There are numerous ways to register to vote. Mail-in registration forms, websites and various state and local offices all help register voters. Snow College students from outside the state have the right of registering to vote in Utah or their home state, whichever they consider to be their primary resident state. The state of Utah requires voters to be registered 15-30 days before the election, depending on the registration method used.
Students who missed the deadline for this year can still vote next time around. Staying up-to-date on current issues will ensure students are well informed and capable of casting responsible votes at the next election. The right to vote is not one to be taken lightly.