In a country of more than 300 million people, it can sometimes seem like one vote does not matter. This could not be further from the truth. Your vote is your voice which makes it powerful.
The reality is that the people hold the power to make change happen — to be loud and confident in stating what their needs are and what needs to change. By utilizing your chance to vote, you are using your voice to stand up for your community, clearly stating what you believe in and what you want to happen after the election, and making sure the consequences of these elections turn into progress for issues you care about. Voting is how you can share your hopes for the nation, and it is the first step to becoming an engaged citizen.
Every year, there are many issues on the ballot, from healthcare to climate change to the economy. All of these issues seem overwhelmingly large, but they impact the everyday lives of you and your community.
It is important to learn about the candidates to see what they stand for and how that correlates with your needs. When you are voting for a president, it goes beyond the candidate themselves. Educating yourself on the candidates’ stances on various issues can help you form opinions and beliefs that will align with your experiences and needs. This will also provide insight on how these topics directly affect you whether it be in your career, education, or elsewhere in your life.
As students, we have so much at stake this election and every election. Those who show up and vote have an impact on what our country, states, cities, and towns will look like in the future. When you go to the polls or vote by mail, it is about so much more than just the candidates you are voting for — it is about being one of the people who show up and voice their aspirations for our future.
Not only can you make a difference for yourself, but for those around you that need allies to amplify their voices and make their concerns and needs visible. Students make up a significant amount of voters for this upcoming election, so we have the chance to make a huge impact on the result of this election, and what happens after.
Young people have historically voted at lower rates than older generations, but we can change that this year. Millennials and Gen Z will be the largest eligible block of voters in the 2020 election. This means that for the first time in our lives, our generation could have the largest say in the future of our country. The truth of the matter is that students’ needs will not be met unless we come together and speak out on the issues at hand for us.
The voting rate among college students doubled between the 2014 and 2018 midterm elections. It has also increased here at Drexel, as our 2018 voter turnout rate was 43.5 percent, a 4.4 percent-point increase over the national average, and even more profoundly, a 25.6 percent-point increase from our voter turnout rate in 2014.
To further illustrate this point, 9,131 Drexel students voted in the 2018 midterm, as compared to 3,988 in 2014. If youth turnout is even higher during this election cycle, it sends a message to politicians that they cannot ignore the youth vote and the values of our generation. Our elected officials work for us, so it is important that we hold them accountable. Accountability starts with voting. The only thing that will hurt the chances of your voice not being heard is if you choose to stay silent.
Voting is a right, which is another reason why it is important to vote. Throughout our country’s history, voting was not a guaranteed right for many Americans. Generations of civil rights organizers and suffragettes had to fight for years to expand voting rights. The fight continues today to ensure that all citizens are able to freely exercise their right to vote and participate in shaping our country’s future. Using your voice at the ballot box by voting is a way to honor those who fought for our right to participate in electoral processes.
Drexel’s home state of Pennsylvania is one of the most crucial swing states for the Presidential election. In some precincts in 2016, the vote was decided by only five votes, so every vote does matter. In states across the country, there have even been over a dozen races decided by a single vote in the past 20 years.
Now is the time for Millennials and Gen Z to mobilize and to fight for what you believe, because at the end of the day there is always going to be something we have to fight for. It is important to gain momentum for this upcoming election and make a plan to vote, because of your voice matters, your community matters, and you matter. Beyond federal elections, your vote has a huge impact on the state and local level wherever you may live. Election Day this year is Nov. 3, but all across the country, people are already voting whether it be by mail or in early voting. So this year, please use your power to vote and make sure your friends and family vote, because your future depends on it.
Sarah Resanovich is a fourth-year hospitality management student at Drexel University. Carlie McWilliams is a fourth-year elementary education student. Both are Drexel Campus Election Engagement Project (CEEP) fellows for 2020.
Find voting resources and answers to frequently asked questions on the Drexel Votes website.