Yes, the college vote matters

On Tuesday, Nov. 3, Texans have the opportunity to vote on seven proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution.

Nearly half a million voters have already cast their ballots during early voting — one of the highest turnouts on record.

But despite the impressive numbers, how many college-age students are voting?

According to The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), in 2014 only 19.9 percent of 18 to 29 year olds cast ballots — the lowest youth turnout rate ever recorded in a federal election.

Historically, state and local elections have routinely recorded low turnouts. In 2010, only 21 percent of 18 to 29 year olds cast ballots. The data points to a dwindling number of young voters participating in state and local elections.

Is the problem voter turnout or voter awareness?

A study by the Knight Foundation discovered that lack of information about candidates and issues was the biggest barrier millennials experience to local voting.

Because of this void, millennials fail to realize how local government affects their lives.

While local and state elections do not have the sexiness and mass appeal of major political elections, they are equally important. Specifically, their outcome has a more immediate effect on local voters.

For example, one item on the week’s ballot is Proposition 1, which changes the homestead exemption amount for school district property taxes from $15,000 to $25,000.

While tax breaks are always welcoming, this one would only reduce property tax by about $126 a year for the average homeowner. In addition, the tax break would be at the expense of children — the average homeowner savings of between $120 and $130 per year would cost the state about $1.2 billion in tax revenue for school districts over two years.

Decisions like these may seem trivial to a college student today, but these choices can shape the lives of their future children.

Voting is the most basic civic responsibility. As college students, we must participate in creating the laws that affect our community. Vote — our future depends on it.