UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | April 17, 2024

Your vote matters: why students should register to vote

A student displays their ‘I Voted’ sticker. Whether or not you choose to vote, your influence on policies can impact your education and future. Abigail Byington | Sun News

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President Thomas Jefferson once said: “We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”

What happens on election day affects every part of our lives, from the taxes we pay to how they are spent. As students who attend a government-funded university, it can mean even more.

However, college-aged students have historically been among the lowest demographics to participate in elections. We have continually failed to cast our ballots, and we’re paying the price because of it. 

For example, you may have been frustrated by the recent changes to FAFSA or are concerned about the nation’s growing student debt. These are policies that are constantly influenced by the ballots that we cast.

Because the political climate has such a large impact on our education, it is crucial that we play our role in shaping it. No matter what side of the scale you fall on, your voice deserves to be heard. Democracy is a principle built on participation from the people, and it can’t function without us. 

What happens on election day is continually being decided by an inaccurate representation of the population. During the 2022 midterm elections, only 36% of voters were under 50 years old. This means that the largest portion of voters, those over 50, are casting 64% of the votes. 

The voices of college-aged students are being tremendously overshadowed. People of color are at an even greater risk of being misrepresented, with a staggering 75% of voters in the 2022 election being white, non-Hispanic adults.

But this is a pattern that can be corrected. In the busy life of a college student, getting to the polls on election day can seem intimidating and tedious. Many of us are living in a state that we don’t claim residency in or are unaware of how to register.

However, it’s much easier of a process than you might think. As of July 2023, 41 states allow online voter registration, Utah included. All you need is a valid ID and a stable internet connection.

When election day rolls around, you can cast your vote at the Dixie Convention Center. You can also vote beforehand by sending it through the mail.

Voting is a habit that needs to be formed early. You deserve to have a say in how your taxes are being spent and in the laws that govern you. This applies to both the national and state levels, where the outcome of elections could be determined by just a few.

The growing levels of political dissatisfaction is a problem that will take work to fix, but the first step is to just show up. This could not be more important than for underrepresented groups like college students.

Young people have the power to make a difference, and step one is to make our voices heard on election day. We live in a world where information is easier to access than ever, and we should use it to make informed decisions that will empower our future.

Learn about your options to vote and take charge of your education and career. This election year marks a crucial point in changing the voter climate, one where students can have a voice in education regulation.