Everyone must get out and vote

There is no good reason for students not to register to vote.

by Camille Galles

Elected officials might make the laws, but you have more influence than you think. Tuesday is National Voter Registration Day. Assert your significance, and make sure you’re registered to vote.

Here’s the bottom line — politicians care about re-election. Pleasing voters is the only way they can achieve their goals and stay in office. A checkmark on a ballot sends them a clear message: “Listen to me. My problems matter, and you should do something about them.”

Elected officials really will listen. Just like the rest of us, they don’t want to lose their jobs. But unlike the rest of us, politicians hold tremendous power. That student debt you’re shouldering? Policy created in Congress can address that (or not). Struggling to pay the bills with a minimum wage job? The governor’s office can address that (or not).

The “or not” part of the equation depends on who’s voting. Elected officials will try to help the voters who put them in office. But if you don’t cast a ballot, you might as well be invisible. How can officials know what you want unless you tell them? Even those who don’t show up to the polling place are still voting. They’re just letting those who do vote speak for them.

Though 2014 isn’t a presidential election year, that doesn’t mean it’s not important. A president has to worry about the entire country’s problems. Members of Congress, state representatives and the governor are responsible for more specific issues within their state and district — and they’re all on the ballot this year. The smaller the office, the more weight your vote carries. 

So visit mnvotes.org today, or stop by one of the many campus events and register yourself to vote. Don’t be intimidated by the political process. Start Googling candidates now, and read some news articles. Being educated is not hard, and you don’t have to be a political expert to have an opinion. Voting is your voice, and you matter. Don’t deny yourself a chanceto speak.