There is always some entity, whether it be governmental or the general public, ragging on college students for not voting. But the problem is it’s ridiculously more difficult to vote than it needs to be.
Election Day occurs on Tuesdays when most students are in class or have work. It’s difficult to get to a voting precinct with you have a million and one things going on. It’s even more difficult when you are a student in Atlanta and have to commute all the way back home to vote in your district.
Even though voting may start early, you have to do your research and constantly be on the move to get your foot in the door to vote.
Then after you figure out what day you can vote on, you have to figure out where to vote, how to register and how to make sure you make it in time. For some, voting may come naturally — it’s learned in the family and carried through generations.
But what about the immigrants with a new citizenship? What about their generation of families that come after? They have to start fresh and learn about how to vote, but the resources are not clearly laid out.
And that’s the thing about college students too—voting is still relatively new to us. It’s no secret that college-aged adults have the lowest voter turn-out rate. Only 45 percent of us voted in 2012, according to civicyouth.org.
However, other things to remember is it’s the first time we’re on our own. We’re managing to start paying our own bills, live off ramen and worry about securing a steady job after graduation. We are learning that we should vote, but we aren’t learning how to vote.
This stuff isn’t taught in school, folks. And if it doesn’t happen in the family, we’re on our own for this one too.
And if we don’t vote? Shame on us.
The shame then starts to create a sense of contempt for the system. Some students may internalize this as “My vote won’t count.”
Voting has evolved with the introduction of a Georgia Voter app, but how much is it publicized? How many voters know they can check their voter information on their smartphones?
If they want to encourage us to vote, there should not be this many road blocks. The constitution states that we have “right to vote.” However, the government sets it up as a privilege.
There is a sense of distrust for the voters too. We feel that if someone is “uneducated” or “unmoral” or even “lazy,” they should not be allowed to vote. But if that is the mindset we have, what standards are we going to start setting up for our other rights such as the freedom of speech?
There must be more time and education put into voting and we have to make it more simple.
In some states like Minnesota, voting is a month-long period; voters have more than six weeks to mail in their ballot for absentee voting. In other states like Alabama, there is no early voting and you must vote in person if you do not have an approved excuse. In Georgia, we have two to four weeks for early voting.
However, there does seem to be more awareness around the Presidential Election season.
There are more events on campus hosting gatherings to watch debates. We’ve seen campaigners on campus asking us if we’ve registered to vote. This should happen for every voting season.
There needs to be more “spirit” on campuses across the nation — Election Day should be treated as a holiday. It should literally be a national holiday so more people will have time to vote and prepare for it.
We should start treating the right to vote as an actual right, not a privilege.
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