Throughout the history of our nation, the right to vote has been the backbone of the American government and value system – something our forefather’s sought to ensure for our country. Our country was founded on the importance of voting and giving voices to our citizens.
The fact that the United States has one of the lowest rates of voter turnout shows a disparity between the values our country was built on and the values held today. In a Pew Research study released in May 2015, it was reported that the U.S. voter turnout in 2012 was only 53.6 percent, based on 129.1 million votes cast for president and an estimated voting-age population of just under 241 million people.
Now, while some of this can be attributed to people simply not casting their ballot, making voting more difficult than it should be is also a factor. Michigan in particular, has recently created even a larger barrier. So far, there hasn’t been much positive feedback.
On Jan. 5, Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill ultimately ending straight-ticket voting. While to some, this may seem like Michigan is giving voters more options instead of solely voting “Democrat” or “Republican,” it also eliminates the absentee vote along with it. The law includes a provision limiting the information public bodies can put out about ballot proposals. That just doesn’t make any sense. Why would lawmakers want voters to be even more ill-informed about who and what they are voting for?
According to a recent Detroit Free Press article, Michigan is one of only 13 states that doesn’t have some form of early voting. By discontinuing absentee voting and expecting people to only be available on that one day, the state is essentially silencing the voices of possibly thousands of people – further proof that voter turnout isn’t effected solely by the voters themselves.
That doesn’t mean, however, that those choosing not to vote are off the hook.
Why is all of this particularly important to the campus community? The results of the last presidential election supported the fact that the young vote does matter and it’s the outcome everyone has to live with for at least the next four years. The younger generation ultimately holds the potential to sway the vote one way or the other.
With the primaries beginning just a little over a week away, now is more important than ever to get registered to vote and informed about the candidates.
In President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union Address, he says that although the Democrats and Republicans “may go at it in campaign season,” that they should be able to agree that the right to vote is sacred. Obama says this right is being denied by too many, and that’s the truth.
Obama’s election, attributed to the spike in interested young adult voters that came to the polls to support him, is additional evidence of the importance of our effect on the results. We, the younger generation, are the ones who are going to be affected by the decisions made by the president we choose to elect. Do your best to overcome the barriers put in place before us. Show the lawmakers that it won’t silence our voices and hinder us from our vote.