In the world of activism, the first step is finding your voice. The next would be learning how to use it. One vital use is the ability to exercise our right to vote. With midterm elections just around the corner, as youths, we need to exercise this right.
The midterm election is an opportunity for people to elect their representatives in the middle of an executive term. This should be important to everyone, regardless of their political affiliation. This upcoming election happens to be special — our country has been in a state of severe political unrest since the 2016 presidential election.
One of our government’s values is the idea of checks and balances. The midterm election is a check. Not only are the seats of representatives up for grabs, but also those of governors and judges. This means it is an election that is too important to miss.
The youth voter turnout is consistently lower than that of other age groups. According to census.gov, the voter turnout rate for 18- to 29-year-olds has ranged from 39 percent to 51 percent since 1980. This is not entirely our fault, but it shows how underrepresented the youth have been. For a long time, the youth have been considered uninformed and unreliable.
Voting was once considered something that could only be handled by adults, but I believe that is far from the truth.
When representatives ran for office, they didn’t tailor their campaigns to focus on the importance of the youth. Thus, the wheel of discouragement began to turn, crushing the youth in its path. As time progressed, the youth became less and less interested in voting because there seemed to be nothing in it for them.
But this is a self-destructive state of mind.
Our future in this country is at stake. We have allowed ourselves to live in a world that was chosen for us instead of a world that we ourselves choose.
It is understood that voting is not always easy for some individuals. Voter suppression and gerrymandering are illegal, however, these issues still exist and tend to target specific groups, like minorities and low-income citizens.
Examples of voter suppression are seen in last-minute changes in voter ID requirements, closures of polling locations leading to extremely long lines, restrictions on early voting, restrictions on mail-in ballots and absentee voting, to name a few.
There are organizations doing their part to combat voter suppression. To really make a change, however, those who can vote must do so. Voting is one of the many ways to make sure that topics concerning the youth matter and are addressed.
Now that the importance has been stressed, the next step is to actually take action. The process of voting while in college can seem confusing and disheartening but it doesn’t have to be. If your school and your home are in two different states, you can still vote.
First, you must choose which state you believe needs your vote more. If your home state leans more to one side and you want to help change that, apply for an absentee ballot. You can do it in person, online or by mail.
However, if you feel as though the state where you attend school needs your vote more, which it might, you need to register to vote in that state. This can be done online and if you have questions, you can call 1-877-VOTESPA (1-877-868-3772).
If you wish to register to vote in Pennsylvania, there are certain requirements that need to be met. The deadline for registration to vote in the Nov. 9 midterm election is Oct. 9 at 5 p.m. You must be a U.S. citizen and resident of Pennsylvania for at least 30 days before the election.
What this means is that if you are not yet registered to vote, the time is now. Youth cannot let this election pass by simply because they are too silent. If you believe in your way of life, let your voice be heard. We are being given a chance now, it’s up to us to take it or deny it.
Miguel Cole, ’21, is a columnist for The Brown and White. He can be reached at [email protected]