After Halloween, as college students, our next favorite (what should be) holiday is Election Day on Nov. 6. With the midterms approaching quickly, everyone took to Twitter and Instagram to share their take on the importance of voting, which had me asking myself: What is the importance of voting?
It is a question and subject that I brought to David Goodson, former president of Coastal Carolina University Republicans and Erin Martin, current President of Coastal Carolina University Democrats.
While both parties are in opposition about most of the popular issues such as gun law reform and abortion, Goodson and Martin both seemed to agree on the importance of voting.
“Voting is important because we are a nation that is built on democratic values and citizens. In fact, the main idea of direct representation allows for your direct access to your elected peers,” Goodson said. “When a person votes, they are saying exactly how they think government should operate.”
Martin believes it is important to make our voices heard because we can and we should.
“Voting is important because it allows your voice to be heard through your designated representative. The United States has a democratic institution in place, all voting age citizens should take advantage of rights given to them and exercise and take advantage of them because some countries do not have these same rights,” Martin said.
Our ability to vote is something that people have fought for years. Women had gotten the right to vote in 1920 which was 131 years after the first Presidential Election. By 1963, African Americans were given the right to vote in most states. However, it was not until 1965 that the Voting Rights Act had been passed and states could no longer impose discriminatory restrictions on voters.
During any election people always seem to ask “before voting for candidates, how should voters prepare for an election?”
Goodson claims that voters should research candidates to make sure that they meet their standards.
“For example, before I voted for Governor McMaster,” said Goodson. “I researched his views on things that I truly believe in. Just because a person is of the same party, doesn’t mean that they represent the same values. Research is key.”
Martin had a similar response.
“Voters should research candidates thoroughly through multiple news sources and other media. Personally, I switch between the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and compare how each news outlet describes the candidate. They should also watch debates, interviews, and news conferences to get a feel for what the candidate is like,” she said.
The common theme that seemed to be going around was research. Research, research, research.
While the candidate(s) you have in mind may want to build a wall to keep immigrants escaping poverty out of ‘your’ country, research to ensure that they have a history of being consistent with certain political or business ventures. Research what members of opposing political parties and non-political acquaintances say about the candidate(s).
Keep in mind what that candidate is willing to promise for the next x amount of years for whatever position they are running for. The actions they carry out through their term affects our and upcoming generations’ futures.
The generations of Millennial and Generation Z tweeted and posted during the 2016 election, claiming that they were “unbothered” about the presidential election—there was no possibility of Trump winning according to them.
Goodson claims that people our age played a great role in grassroots, but not in the actual election.
“In the midterms, I believe younger people will turn out in higher numbers because you have a lot of younger candidates,” said Goodson.
Martin believes that younger people need to start showing more interest in our government.
“I think our age group could have shown up to the polls more,” said Martin. “In my personal experience, a lot of my friends didn’t care to vote out of lack of interest or they truly were not satisfied with either presidential candidate. Our age group needs to show up to the polls or apply for an absentee ballot because voting is important, whether it is for your local or federal government. We can’t sit behind our phones and tweet and argue and not put action to it.”
Out of 138 million Americans who had voted, 19% were ages 18-29. Young Americans boasted over social media of Clinton winning by a landslide, but the turnout of older groups who had voted for Trump (40-65+) was 64% of those who voted (the remaining 17% had voted for Clinton and was between ages 30-39, making that 36% in favor of Clinton compared to Trump’s 64%).
Goodson voiced his opinion about what voters should want future politicians to work on in terms of policies and the future generations.
“I believe that voters should be realistic when they hear absurd things like Medicare for all that will cost $32 trillion dollars”, says Goodson. “They should ask how it will be paid for. I believe future politicians should work on lowering our deficit and responsible spending.”
Martin stresses the importance of researching your candidates.
“Voters should align themselves with candidates that have similar values that they have or value that they aspire to have... do research on the candidate and see if they have kept promises in the past. Don’t fall for unrealistic promises because you cannot trust a candidate that cannot follow through on their word. Our age group should really look at health care policies and education reform because they directly affect our futures and our children’s futures. We need serious health care reform, especially in regard to Social Security,” she said.
The act of voting is a democratic action. Majority of people vote with self-interest—especially when they are afraid for their futures.
We need candidates in office who care about those who differ from the 1%. These candidates need to have interest in reducing the poverty level. They need to have goals set to reform healthcare and education expenses so that they can be affordable. Environmental sustainability is another issue to be focused on, as the United Nations estimates we have 12 years to slow climate change. These are not unrealistic goals to put energy into. The United States has the resources, it has the money, but the distribution of both of those lies in the hands of politicians.
In case you were unaware, the midterm election is where all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate will be contested. Also, 39 state and governorships along with local and state elections will be held. Local elections affect our country as much as federal elections do.
As November 6th nears, voters need to check their registration.
You can do this through USA.gov and through Rock the Vote. If there is an issue with your registration, immediately contact the help number on those websites. There have been registration sweeps where felons have been taken out of the voter system but some non-criminal citizens have been as well—please ensure you are not one of those people!
Registration has come and gone, but before the next election check your states rules and regulations about registering if you have not. You can also automatically register at the DMV when you are issued a new license. Do not forget that if you are not in your state where you are registered to vote that you need to cast an absentee ballot.
If you do not know where your polling location is, Google has a great tool to aid you in finding out. Simply Google, “Where is my polling location” and a module at the top of the search should ask you for your address to find your polling location.
Have your voice be heard. Exercise your right to vote. You may think that your vote may not mean much, but that mentality is why we have who we have in office. Whether you favor this administration or not, it is not controversial to say that this administration does not have everyone in mind in their policy-making.
Vote with the intention to better the community. Make yourself familiar with candidates and pay attention to their history before they attempt to change the course of ours.