It’s that time again: a presidential election is just around the corner. Every four years, the nation finds itself on the cusp of a threshold as it collectively decides who will lead our nation.
For Salisbury University students and other college students across the nation, a presidential election is a chance to make our voices heard.
However, historically, the voter turnout among college students has been low. According to a study from Tufts University, in the 2016 presidential election, voter turnout among college-age students was 48.3%. That is up 3% from the college student voter turnout in 2012, but it still means that less than half of college students are voting in presidential elections.
So why is it so important to vote?
The first reason is that if you vote, you have the opportunity to shape the political landscape of the future. By voting for one candidate or another, you are showing your support for that candidate’s policies or proposed policies.
Your influence may seem small — after all, one person gets only one vote — but nonetheless, by voting for a presidential candidate, you are providing your own political input, contributing to what potentially changes our country in the next four years.
Second, voting is a privilege. We live in a democracy, so we, provided that we’re adult citizens who are registered to vote, have the chance to cast our vote for who we want to see in office. In other countries with different political systems, residents may not have the choice of picking their leaders.
If you think voting isn’t important, remember, there are other people in the world who are not even given the choice or opportunity to vote.
Historically, this has also been the case. Voting has not been available to all adult U.S. citizens for the entirety of this nation’s history. At the time the U.S. was founded, only white, land-owning men age 21 and above could vote.
Gradually, more groups gained the right to vote. For example, the famous Nineteenth Amendment, ratified in 1920, gave women the right to vote, and the Indian Citizenship Act gave Native Americans citizenship and the right to vote in 1924. Additionally, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 barred racial discrimination in voting practices.
It wasn’t even until 1971, about 50 years ago, that the Twenty-Sixth Amendment lowered the legal voting age to 18. It used to be 21.
Think of it this way: significant improvements have been made to increase the accessibility of voting rights to different groups among the population. If you weren’t a white male of at least moderate social status, during the founding of this nation, you wouldn’t be able to vote.
Throughout history, people have fought for voting rights. Activists who may have seemed radical at the time paved the way for you to be able to choose your elected officials.
Don’t let those activists’ efforts go to waste.
Even if your contribution to picking our elected officials, like our president, seems small, it’s still worth something. You can vote and, you can make a difference.
Voting is the primary way to make your political voice heard. It’s an opportunity to shape the future of this country. Your vote will help determine the political future of the United States for next four years, so don’t be silent at this crucial time.
Take some time to consider the issues that matter to you, research the candidates’ positions on these issues and vote accordingly. After all, you have unique, passionate opinions — it’s time to let those opinions be heard.
You have the ability to affect the future of this country. Take on that responsibility and handle it with care.
By ALLISON GUY
Featured photo by Emma Reider