Opinion: The youth vote matters, get involved



Jennifer Hutchinson

With this being my last column for the semester, I wanted to write a piece talking directly to my fellow students. For those of you who read my articles, you know I mainly focus on state and national politics. As a college student, I am always surprised to learn how many people don’t participate in — or frankly don’t care about — politics.

Before this semester ends, and with elections nearing, I would like to encourage young Americans to get active in our government because we have more of an impact than I think many us realize.

In some ways I understand the apathy young people have toward voting and being involved in politics. It can be hard to see how voting affects us when we don’t have a lot of stake in society. By that I mean many of us don’t have children or our own property, things that give us a direct interest in how things are run — especially with people in this day and age settling down much later than in previous generations. It can sometimes seem difficult to see how government and politics are directly affecting us in this point of our lives.

Sadly, however, the other thing I often hear from students is that their vote simply doesn’t matter or won’t make a difference. I would like to persuade my peers to think otherwise.

For starters, as cliché as it may sound, we are the future of our country. While we may not see policies directly affecting us now, they most certainly will in the coming years. We are the generation of ideas and solutions, and when we ignore our right to express our ideas and solutions through our vote, we are not only harming the realm of government but also ourselves.

A striking statistic from Fairvote.org found that only 24 percent of eligible young voters between the ages of 18-24 voted in the 2010 midterm elections. The unfortunate reality of those low numbers is that when fewer young people vote, we see less accountability for our government officials and less representation of our age group.

Rest assured, the solution to getting involved is not a difficult one. First of all, you can always start by simply turning on the news or picking up a paper just to keep yourself involved on what’s going on in the world, the country or your neighborhood. In addition, for our Kent State students, there is a number of political organizations you can join to keep yourself engaged in our government.

Perhaps easiest of all is just the simple act of voting, especially in Ohio. Ohio is one of the nation’s leaders in voter accessibility. You can also register to vote or manage your information online on Ohio’s voting website. If you are registered to vote in Ohio, you can vote by mail or in person at your local polling place. Ohio also provides an early voting option, as opposed to its surrounding states that do not. It also, excluding states that vote exclusively by mail, is the only state to send out absentee ballots.

Perhaps I’m being too optimistic, but I’m hoping to see a considerable turnout for the youth vote in 2016. So when you say, “someone should do something about that,” remember that you’re someone.

Jennifer Hutchinson is a sophomore political science major. Contact her at [email protected].