DOING YOUR CIVIC DUTY

Voter registration deadline looms, Lakers should get involved

By Lanthorn Editorial Board | 1/27/16 10:57pm

editorial


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, young adult voters between the ages of 18 through 24 have consistently voted at lower rates than all other age groups in every presidential election since 1962. To put that in college terms: that's 54 consecutive years of procrastinating.

Since the majority of students at Grand Valley State University fall into this age group, this a clear-cut sign things need to change.

When you vote, you are voting on things that will ultimately impact you in one way or another. Decisions made at the federal, state and especially the local levels influence issues such as student debt, higher education funding and job creation. As members of a community that is affected by such things, we should want to have a say in how decisions are made on this matter.

Often, local offices and smaller voting issues such as tax levies are decided by a few votes. When you decide not to register because your opinion doesn't matter, just think about the change you could enact with these matters.

It's not enough to post a Facebook video saying that you #FeelTheBern or want to #MakeAmericaGreatAgain, taking the necessary actions to have your voice heard is a rewarding experience. If nothing else, do it for the "I voted!" sticker.

The deadline to register to vote in the Michigan primary is Feb. 8, a month before the election is held on March 8. This preliminary step in the presidential election falls during GVSU's spring break, allowing students to actually vote in person at their local voting locations. If student will be out of town, they can request an absentee ballot until as late as March 5 at 2 p.m., and can send it in even later as long as it reaches the voting location before it closes at 8 p.m. on election day.

If a student is not already registered to vote, they may do so at any Secretary of State office, city or township clerk office and other locations. Individuals may also register to vote by mail, but if a voter doesn't register to vote in person, they must physically show up at their voting location the first time they vote. 

All GVSU students who are eligible to vote should feel a civic obligation to do so. Issues that are most important to college students, like student debt, health care and the high unemployment rate for young people are repeatedly ignored by political candidates. This is not by accident. Politicians know that college-aged students don't show up to the voting booths. As such, they have absolutely no incentive to cater their policies or actions to 18 to 24-year-olds. 

If you're sick of politicians going on and on about things you don't care about, look at yourself in the mirror. If you're not registered to vote or don't plan on voting this election cycle, you are part of the problem. Policy makers will only start to care about issues that affect young voters when young voters start to care about policy makers. 

Voting is the easiest way to participate and create change. Register. Stay involved and informed. Then, actually go vote. Make a difference, and wear that awesome sticker with pride on March 8.

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