Guest Blog from MITvote: Why I Vote
by Seamus Lombardo
While college students have historically had lower voter turnout rates than other groups, 2018 saw a massive 20% increase over the previous midterm election. As someone who has become increasingly civically engaged over the past few years, I feel that this recent spike in civic participation is motivated by students’ anxieties about their lives to come and the problems facing the world. The Climate Crisis, crippling student debt, and an historic level of wealth inequality in our economy–today’s college students will bear an oversized burden with regards to these coming challenges. Voting is a way to make their voices heard in the democratic process, a way to chart a better path forward.
Unfortunately, there are obstacles to students trying to exercise their right to vote. For one, the voting process is difficult to navigate, and students cite registration deadlines and lack of knowledge about voting processes as reasons for not voting at the same rates as older generations. Additionally, states across the nation are intentionally restricting college student voting. In Texas and Florida, for example, college voting sites are overburdened with regulations that often force the sites to close, even though thousands of college-age voters cast their ballots at these locations in 2018. Similarly, recent voter ID laws–like those passed in Wisconsin and North Carolina, falsely marketed as addressing virtually non-existent voter fraud– place tough restrictions on student IDs, specifically suppressing college student turnout.
I exercise my right to vote because of the historic challenges facing our generation. My participation in MITvote is driven by my urge to make the voting process clearer for students, to fight college-student voter suppression, and to ensure that all students can make their voice heard in our democratic process. Make sure that you exercise your voice by registering and voting in elections this year (check out http://vote.mit.edu/ for more information), and if you want to help your fellow MIT students participate in the democratic process, come get involved with MITvote (email us at firstname.lastname@example.org)!