With less than 24 hours before Election Day, presidential candidates are making one last attempt to convince Americans why they are the best choice. Incumbent President Barack Obama claims that the past four years are living proof that his ideas work; Republican challenger Mitt Romney argues that it’s time for a change.
Despite the fact that some college students who attend school in cities other than their home towns have been challenged when registering to vote or when heading to the polls for early voting due to new voter ID laws, others will experience no problems.
Unfortunately, though, far too many young adults are simply victims of voter apathy—for whatever reason, they’re just not interested, unconcerned, or believe that they can’t make a difference in the 2012 presidential election.
If past performance is an accurate indicator, Project Vote statistics are disenchanting. Young voters between the ages of 19 and 29 comprised 21% of the eligible voter population in the 2008 election yet made up just 17% of the population that actually went out and voted. Translation? Over 20 million American citizens under the age of 30 did not vote in 2008.
If you’re registered to vote but still not sure if you’re going to head to the polls tomorrow, we urge you to think again. Still not convinced that you’re no more than just a face in the crowd? Here are some of the top reasons why college students should vote in the 2012 Presidential Election:
1. Voting is your American right. Our country is representative democracy, and our elected officials need to know what their constituents think. Your voice needs to be heard. Older Americans may not care—or may be opposed to—issues like financial aid and other needs of college students. Exercise your rights.
2. Appreciate your right to vote! It wasn’t always there. Citizens were denied the right to vote based on their race, color, or previous condition of servitude (slavery) until the 15th Amendment was passed in 1870. American women were denied the right to vote because of their sex until the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920. The voting age was 21 until the 26th Amendment was passed in 1971, which prohibited state and federal government from setting a voter age higher than 18.
3. If you think there aren’t enough college students out there to make a difference, think again. Approximately 46 million young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 are eligible to vote in 2012. Nearly 17 million young voters who were not eligible to vote because of their age in 2008 are eligible to vote in this year’s election. (Source: The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, CIRCLE).
4. College students and other young adults have a chance to make a bigger difference than older citizens. Comparatively, there are 39 million eligible voters over the age of 65. This means that our country’s college students truly have the ability to change the outcome of an election. (Source: CIRCLE).
5. History has proven that every vote can truly make a difference. Today’s college students are most likely too young to remember the 2000 election “hanging chad” controversy, but official election results between George W. Bush and Al Gore were delayed by 36 days due to a recount of Florida’s electoral votes. The candidate who actually earned the most popular votes—Gore—lost in the Electoral College.
6. Your choice of presidential candidate could impact issues like abortion and gay marriage rights. How? As Laura Seldon of MTV’s Rock the Vote explains, Supreme Court justices, who are appointed by the President, are appointed for life. Four of the nine current justices are in their seventies, which means that there is a good chance they will be retiring or possibly experiencing age-related health issues within the next few years. The President may likely have to appoint a new justice, and the Supreme Court hears cases that deal with issues like voter rights, gay marriage, affirmative action, and more. Your life and your American rights could be affected.
What are you waiting for? Exercise your right to vote!
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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