When a citizen steps into the voting booth on Election Day, he or she has the same amount of power as everyone else. Elections are a great equalizer in that they ensure that all citizens have a voice in deciding who gets to lead the country. Factors such as ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and wealth fade away. Deliberately forfeiting the choice to elect governing representatives is ignorant. Not voting is a direct sign of apathy.
In this pivotal presidential election, indifference is appalling. There have never been two presidential candidates in history who are so different. Some people may be upset that their candidate of choice did not win the primary, and voters of the two major parties have been reluctant to get behind their party’s nominee.
Yet as Election Day draws near, all citizens need to realize that this is no longer a partisan matter. Members of both parties need to put their grievances aside and stand up for the candidate that best supports them and their values. The upcoming election will determine whether the United States stays on the path it is currently on or verges in a completely different direction. Now is not the time for impassivity.
This applies tenfold to student voters, whose futures are tied to this election. Issues of college affordability, healthcare, the job market, social issues, social security and wars are at the forefront of both candidates’ campaigns. The tone of this country will be set by one of these two candidates on Inauguration Day in January and young voters are the ones who will be affected the most by the new president’s decisions. By choosing not to vote, student voters are leaving their futures in the hands of other people, which is an extremely risky move.
Yet many people feel that their vote means so little in elections. They have the idea that the election is “rigged” or that their vote is insignificant when compared to all the other millions of voters.
Only 16 years ago, Al Gore narrowly lost to George W. Bush in one of the most famous elections in U.S. history. The results ultimately came down to just a few counties in Florida where every citizen’s vote proved to be critical. Imagine how different this country might look today if Gore had been in office in the 2000s.
When citizens decline their right to vote, they are declining to participate in deciding where their country is headed. They are making a conscious choice to refuse to take responsibility for the future. All qualified citizens should be strongly encouraged to take part in one of the most fundamental aspects of democracy. Even if the choice comes down to who is the lesser of two evils, it needs to be made for the sake of the generations that follow, generations who do not yet have a say in the country that they will one day inherit.
The power will be in the citizens’ hands on Nov. 8, Election Day, a day during which a college student’s vote means just as much as the vote of a rich celebrity. The only way to ensure that this country makes the right choice is if all citizens go out and make their voices heard on Election Day.