Your vote matters

Gauri Raje, Assistant News Editor

One of the perks of turning 18 is gaining the ability to legally cast your vote. 

After the 2020 general elections, when, to my disappointment, I missed the eligibility cutoff by a week, my urge to vote grew. Soon enough, I was able to vote for the very first time as a legal adult. My very first time voting was in the Nov. 2 elections that took place in Texas. While the elections themselves were on a state level and dealt with propositions, the ability to walk into the voting center and cast my very first ballot was just as exciting. On my way back home, I was filled with a unique sense of satisfaction. Through my ballot, I had voiced my opinion. I had, in a way, done my part in contributing to the very essence of democracy – voting. Voting ensures we, as citizens, hold our elected officials accountable. It ensures that a democratic government is created by the people and for the people. Without voting, there is no democracy.

Yet, voting is often not a priority for many people, including young college students. In fact, college students and younger voters are often described as having one of the lowest participation rates in elections, especially state and local elections. 

This lack of participation can be attributed to several reasons: including the fast pace of life, which makes voting seem like a hassle. Why would you stand in a long line for hours on end only to cast a vote that probably won’t make a difference? 

Don’t forget that every single vote that is cast in an election adds up. Your vote matters. By voting, you are voicing your opinion. By voting, you are exercising a fundamental right you are entitled to by law. 

And by voting I’m referring to all kinds of elections – be it local, state or national. In fact, state and local elections probably have the most direct impact on your day-to-day life.  

Voting is a small yet consequential way in which our everyday lives are affected. It is far from trivial. The electoral process has real world consequences. Not exercising the right to vote is nothing short of complacency. Not to mention the strict voting laws many states have passed to restrict access to the ballot, which further highlights the importance of voting. 

The current political climate is extremely polarized. A lot is at stake, especially for the younger generation, who will, so to speak, inherit the country and the planet. Voting at a time like this is all the more important if we want our generation to have a voice.

As college students who are just beginning to step into the real world, it is important to develop the habit of participating in elections early in life. In the age of digital media, it is very easy to get sucked into the trap of performative activism. We often find ourselves asking how we can really make a change and voting is the first step in doing so. It’s the first step in getting involved.

If you are eligible to vote, get out there and cast your ballot. Furthermore, if you are passionate about certain issues, that is all the more reason for you to vote. And while you’re at it, make sure you read up on the issues you will be voting on to ensure that your vote is well informed. It might seem like a burden, but, as a first time voter, I can assure you it is worth the effort. 

Next time you come across news of an election, be it local, state, national or otherwise, go and vote. Your vote counts. Your vote matters.