College-aged voters are often identified by the media as a force that can swing presidential elections, but the historical reality is disappointing: We often don’t show up when it counts.
According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, just 36.1 percent of 18- to 24-year olds voted in the 2000 presidential election, while 62.9 percent of those aged 25 and over went to the polls. Four years later, the numbers for the younger demographic jumped to 46.7 percent, but still trailed the rest of the population by nearly 20 percentage points.
In exactly two months, the American people will be faced with a crucial choice. They will decide whether Barack Obama or John McCain will be the next person charged with reviving the economy, deflating the national debt, addressing the health care crisis and removing American troops from Iraq in a manner everyone can live with.
And once again, young voters have another chance to make a difference: This time, let’s make sure we don’t waste that crucial opportunity.
The first step, of course, is to properly register to vote. While this task is typically completed at a local Secretary of State office, the process will be made even simpler for students next week when the mobile Secretary of State van arrives on NMU’s campus.
The Michigan Secretary of State Web site states that “a person who registers to vote by mail must vote in person in the first election in which he or she participates.” For students that don’t live near NMU, the van may provide the only opportunity to be able to file an absentee ballot. For students that do live in closer proximity to campus, the van will provide registration in a convenient location.
The next logical step is to actually get out and vote on Nov. 4, 2008. At a time when the youth vote is being heavily sought by both parties, the question seems to be whether the young people who have been receiving so much media attention will actually turn up to cast their votes.
So take some time now and learn a bit about current events-before it is too late. And when the time comes to voice your opinion about the future of our country, take a few minutes out of your day and head to the polls, or fill out an absentee ballot.
It’s time for us to be heard.