It is the right of every American to vote. Since we live in a democracy, it is crucial for us to make our voices heard by our representatives. We do this through elections.
By voting, we work together to address each other’s concerns and safeguard our civil liberties from unjust laws and corrupt politicians. Citizens have the power to elect a candidate of their choice by using their right to vote, and this empowers all of us to push for the change we want to see in this country through electing officials that we trust and holding others accountable for their policies.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, voting is even more important to protect people who are additionally marginalized by the consequences of social distancing and economic shutdown. If we put our voices together at the ballot box, we can tackle this inequality and ensure the American promise of liberty and justice for all.
The benefits of voting
Voting promotes equal opportunity and justice while ensuring civil liberty for everyone who can cast a ballot. When we exercise our right to make our voices heard, we build a platform for politicians to hear about the issues affecting our everyday lives, from education to healthcare to employment.
Choosing not to participate can’t bring social change, instead, one’s silence means they are forfeiting their right to have a voice. In today’s society, one has to make themselves heard in order for their opinion to be recognized. Yet, throughout the history of the United States, certain people have been purposefully silenced by depriving them of their crucial right to vote. This process is called disenfranchisement.
When we are disenfranchised, our silence gives the government power to do whatever it wants, which may not be in our best interest as citizens. The only person who can truly look after us is ourselves, so we have to mobilize our voices to end disenfranchisement and protect equal rights and public well-being.
What was voter turnout like at SLCC in 2018?
SLCC participates in the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, which means we get high level data about student voting trends for each presidential and midterm election year.
In 2016, 61.7% of students registered to vote in the election, yet only 45.3% of the student body actually voted on the day of the election. 65.6% of female students attending SLCC voted, as opposed to 62.6% of male students. Only 38.3% of students aged 18-21 and 44.2% of students aged 22-24 in the student body at SLCC voted in the 2016 election, compared to 71.4% of students aged 50+.
It is clear that our institution should take steps to promote voter turnout overall and especially in our younger campus population.
How to be an active participant in 2020
There are a lot of ways to be civically engaged and carry your message to your elected representatives. You can volunteer in your community, raising awareness about the issues that matter to you and pushing citizens to vote for leaders who agree. You can also use social media to share information with voters about problems that you think are important. Finally, assembling a peaceful demonstration is also a legitimate way of voicing your concerns to the government, especially when you are not being heard.
How to participate
An SLCC Voter Engagement Committee has been created on campus to promote SLCC registration, education, and voting in the 2020 election. There will be opportunities to register to vote on campus and to gain a better understanding of the candidates and issues in the upcoming election.
There will also be an ongoing column in The Globe throughout the fall titled “I’m Voting For …” to raise awareness about issues on the ballot important to faculty, staff, and students on campus.
College and university students’ votes do matter. If all eligible students vote, they can have influence to change and amend the policies and the laws that do not align with their values. You can be a driving force for change. Let’s do it together.
Listen to Amie Schaeffer’s interview with Deeqa Hamid.