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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

From the archives: Young people must take the time to vote

Note from the Editors: This article was originally published on October 5, 2018. The Carletonian is 133 years old, with over 3,400 issues published since its inception. To reflect and learn from the newspaper’s substantial history, pieces from the archive that have particular relevance either to current events will be republished. 

As a college student, I was made well aware that this past Tuesday, September 25, was National Voter Registration Day, designed to increase voter turnout for the November 6th midterm elections. A history of low voter turnout amongst young people has made college students a heavily targeted demographic in this year’s voter registration campaigns. According to a study by the Brookings Institute, only 50% of 18- to 29-year-olds voted in the 2016 election. In midterm years such as this one, voter turnout among young people is even lower; a New York Times article reports that only an “abysmal” 18 percent of young people voted in the 2014 midterm election. It is surprising and upsetting that so few young people chose to participate in democracy, as it is imperative that all qualified U.S. citizens exercise their civic duty and show up to the polls. In an effort to target young voters, social media platforms have been fiercely promoting voter registration. For example, both Snapchat and Instagram have implemented easy ways to connect users with voter registration websites through Instagram and Snapchat stories and are providing an array of “stickers” or filters related to voting such as red, white, and blue stars and “I voted” signs. Social media platforms that one would less expect to join the movement are pushing registration as well; a recent post in the “Overheard at Carleton” Facebook page read “I got an email from tinder about registering to vote.” Here on campus, the push to increase community voter registration is strong. Carleton students such as freshmen Arlo Hettle ’22 and Allegra Johnson McKee ’22 have been door-knocking, dorm-knocking, and phone banking to get members of the Northfield community and Carls to vote for Democratic candidate Angie Craig in the upcoming November 6 election. Craig is running for Congress against Republican incumbent Jason Lewis (who beat Craig by just two percent in 2016) here in Minnesota’s second congressional district. Regardless of parties, however, what is most important is that students exercise their right to vote and realize the power they hold over the future of our country. I find it surprising and disappointing that voter turnout is so low among young people. College campuses, and especially Carleton, are overrun with intelligent, politically aware young adults and advocates for social change who seem like token voters. Furthermore, voting is a perfect exercise in practicing the values and skills taught in higher level education, such as critical thinking, community engagement, and independent judgment. Why, then, do so many college students decide to not turn out to the polls? It all comes down to a matter of convenience. The added inconvenience of voting absentee, the bother of filling out the necessary information for voter registration, and issues of public transportation to local voting areas are all obstacles that prevent lazy young adults from showing up to vote. However, if we young people can find the time to binge watch “Grey’s Anatomy” on Netflix, I think we are more than capable of taking twenty minutes to register and show up to vote. As November 6 approaches, Carleton students and young people around the country need to be reminded of the importance of voting. Take some time to reflect on why voting is important to you or why it should be. For example, freshman Katherine Nowak ’22 does not want to take her ability to vote for granted given all the women suffragists who fought for her right to cast a ballot. Perhaps making a more personal connection to voting and reminding yourself of its importance will help increase both voter registration and then participation in the upcoming election. 

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