Columnist expresses the importance of registering to vote

By: Shaheed Shahan Columnist


Like the running water that we take for granted every day, voting is a privilege that most of us have been born into. I say this because in my experience over the last few weeks working for Students Vote – a non-partisan political action committee – students have showed various inclinations to register and at times no motivation at all. But the general consensus towards voting, in my opinion, has been an attitude that we place on chores – just another thing to cross off on our to-do list. And this belief can be very detrimental.

For one, going to college is a privilege on its own. According to Bloomberg, only 6.7 percent of the world’s population hold a college degree. Tie that with the fact that you are living in a democracy that provides equal opportunities for people of any gender, to vote and you are part of a very elite group. Not only do you have privilege, but now you have influence. So even if you are convinced of your privileged existence the question is, what are you doing to do with this influence?

At times, it might seem like your voice doesn’t count. Let’s go back to the year 2000. Remember Florida? The election between Al Gore and Bush came down to a few hundred votes – 537 to be exact. Putting that into perspective, that’s only about a hundred or so more than the number of students that fit in Rotunda D. Still not convinced? Two-thirds of students that graduate college in America have a student debt of some sort. And this is no trivial number – approximately $26,600 on average, according to Forbes. Now add to that the cost of possibly settling down – getting married, buying a house and having kids. The total often ends up in six figures. Now is that something that concerns you?

I believe it is in every student’s best interest to speak up about issues that they care about the most. Voting is an integral part of that process. As a college student you are also probably going to be spending at least four years in a different location than your hometown – Brookings in this instance. It would thereby make more sense to register as a Brookings resident using your college address because issues that happen locally are going to affect the way you live.

But the bottom line would be to register nonetheless and to vote. Voting is an amazing and powerful privilege that you are gifted to make a difference in your own life and those that you care about.

Last Day to register: Oct. 20

Midterm Elections: Nov. 4

Shaheed is a mathematics major. He can be reached at [email protected]. edu.