Did you vote in Tuesday’s primary election in Pennsylvania? Chances are you didn’t. Even in 2008, when the youth demographic turnout between the ages 18 and 29 saw record highs, only 50 percent of eligible voters came out to the polls. Over 20 million youngsters had their voice heard, while the other half denied one of the most basic freedoms of our democracy.
It seems pretty simple. When we turn 18 we suddenly have more freedoms in this country. We are officially adults, we can serve in the armed forces, we can buy tobacco products, and you also get a say in who runs our local, state, and federal governments. It appears on the surface that more young adults take advantage of the purchasing of tobacco and not their right to vote.
No one is making it easier for people to vote either. The recent legislation passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives requiring all voters to have a photo ID at the polls will most likely decrease voter turnout. Between 80,000 and 90,000 registered Pennsylvania voters do not have a photo ID. Bloomsburg University’s student ID card is not a solution for students on campus because it lacks an expiration date – a requirement of the new law.
“Why are people standing outside Town Hall right now,” one BU student said as she walked from her Main Street apartment to campus on Tuesday morning. This student didn’t even know it was Election Day. She is not alone. Many more students could tell you that Tuesday was the primary but could probably not tell you who was running for each office. We at The Voice believe that this is the root of the problem – the uninformed citizen.
Getting people, students in particular, interested in politics and willing to vote could be a potentially daunting task. However, if all the information was in one place where people could go to find out everything they needed to know, it might make this daunting task somewhat less stressful. We at The Voice believe that a website should be set up by each county in the state in an effort to make for a one-stop-shopping experience for getting to know what each candidate is running for, what they all stand for, and any messages that these candidates want their constituents to know about them or the what they support. This would allow for people to be more informed and ready and willing to vote come Election Day. In our technologically advanced world, it would not be hard to create an app for this on smart phones in order for people to access this information minutes before casting their votes.
Voting in a college town is especially challenging, requiring an additional step in the process. Students are required to either register with Columbia County or fill out an absentee ballot back home. This extra step prevents students from getting engaged in elections. We at The Voice know that students at BU have the power to change the election outcomes. Columbia County’s population sits close to 70,000 individuals. If all 10,000 BU students were to vote, anything would be possible with power in numbers.
When it comes down to it, everyone should want to vote. Everyone should have a say in who will be responsible for having his or her voice heard in the Capitol. If voting was taken away many of those inactive voters would probably complain. An election should encompass the voices of all of those people within a given area. Unfortunately, only a few compared to the larger population will vote. Especially in local elections where the candidates are closer to us and have more of an effect on us day-to-day lives.
If you didn’t vote this week you should now realize that your one vote may not change the world, but it does give you the opportunity to get out and have your opinion heard. This opportunity is a luxury – one that people take for granted all to often. Take some time to get informed. Log out of the social networking sites and pick up a newspaper or go online and research some information, and come November, make sure too support those candidates that you feel are the right people to lead us.