Junior Speaks: Cast your vote in a train, on a plane

headshot_gianluca_webIn my semester abroad, I’ve been working hard to adjust to life in Italy and immerse myself in the culture, but I can’t keep my mind off the fact that I’m missing a major election back in the U.S. — so that’s why I requested an absentee ballot.

I can’t help but feel excited that I’m voting in my first major election and supporting a candidate whose policies represent my interests well. But just because this is a major milestone, it does not mean that everyone will participate. In the 2012 election, only 45 percent of 18-24-year-old voters participated in the presidential election, according to the Census Bureau.

Why isn’t our generation voting enough? Is it laziness, or perhaps low political efficacy? Why should any of these factors prevent us from voting? Registering is easy — you can do it at a city hall or at the Motor Vehicle Commission when you update your drivers’ license. Even if you have a lack of trust in the government or feel like your vote does not matter, what harm will casting a ballot do?

If you live on campus and aren’t from Mercer County, I recommend requesting an absentee ballot. I signed up for an absentee ballot through the U.S. Vote Foundation, which can be found easily online. I filled out a form online, which automatically entered my information into the absentee ballot request form. All I had to do was print it, sign it and mail it to my county clerk.

Voting is too important to miss. It gives us a chance not only to vote for a candidate who best represents us, but also to vote in favor of the policies that affect us directly. And most of those policies are made by our legislators. So make sure you research the policies of your legislative district’s candidates for the House of Representatives this fall.

In district 5, where I live, not many residents in my age group recognize that there is a hot competition between incumbent Scott Garrett (R), and Josh Gottheimer (D), who is a former speechwriter for Bill Clinton. When I voted in the primary, I made the mistake of not reading into who else was on the ballot for state-level elections. This time, I’m prepared to make the right choices for my political beliefs.

Voting is one of the many ways we have a voice in government affairs. So why not take advantage of that? If we don’t hear everyone’s voice in choosing our elected officials, that defeats the purpose of living in a representative democracy. So whether you are “With Her,” trying to “Make America Great Again,” or even supporting a third-party candidate, make sure you mail your ballot or get to your local polling location on Nov. 8.

—Gianluca D’Elia

Junior journalism major

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