M.A. Public Affairs, 18
The National Voter Registration Day is on Tuesday, September 26th, and I want you to register! That’s a wish that might appear paradoxical due to the fact that I’m an international graduate student.
I had a wonderful civics teacher back in Sweden who kept saying that voting is a duty and a powerful tool, a right we all needed to take earnestly. I had just turned sixteen and couldn’t really grasp the seriousness, but she didn’t give up. Instead, our class was split into groups of two, where every couple was required to speak to a classroom of eligible voters about the importance of casting a vote. I don’t know if I persuaded many of the twenty-five male students I spoke to, but I convinced myself that this civic responsibility was important. We, as citizens, are vulnerable without this right. There’s a reason for why the preface of the U. S. Constitution begins “We the People.” Voting, the right to make your voice heard, stands as a fundamental cornerstone of democracy.
Yes, politics can be messy, confusing and frustrating. Yet, I will continue to argue that politics inherently surrounds every aspect of life. You can close your eyes and put your head in the sand, but that doesn’t change the fact that your every-day life is affected by decisions that can be traced back to policy. Think Flint, Michigan. Just the monotonous decision to grab a glass of tap water could become the difference between life or death. This is why it is imperative that we elect responsible leaders who are accountable to their voters.
Recent studies uncovered that an unexpectedly low number of USF students were registered to vote, and even a smaller number made it out to the voting booths. This is, without doubt, worrisome. Additionally, I’m concerned that the voters that do make it to the booth, do so based mostly on discontent, making the votes unrepresentative of the whole population. We know that voting becomes effective when all sides can be heard and remembered.
So embrace the political climate, reflect over possibilities, and make your voice heard. The University of San Francisco, through USFvotes, is now doing what my high school teacher advocated for thirteen years ago—promoting civic engagement. So, have I been handing out registration forms on our campus? Of course. After all, registering to vote is the beginning of everything.
Check out the USF Votes Flickr Album