Importance of Voting

As the 2020 Presidential Election is approaching slowly, the most important question looms: Why exactly is it important to vote? But first, we must take a step back and ask ourselves this question: Why don’t we vote?


In the 2016 Presidential Election, voters chose to sit out of the elections because they were disillusioned by the candidates, neither of whom might have been particularly appealing to them. Or they might be telling themselves that “their vote doesn’t matter”. However, in an America that is currently more divided than ever, every vote matters. For example, the 2009 Democratic candidate for the Senate race in Minnesota beat the Republican incumbent by just 312 votes. This, as a result, allowed the “Democratic Party to gain a 60-seat Supermajority in the Senate”. This is one of many examples that shows that every vote matters in an election. According to Best Colleges, approximately 16.8 million people are undergraduate students eligible to vote, of which 36.5% are minority voters. There are approximately 77,000 students in Penn State, including all Commonwealth Campuses who are eligible to vote, of which approximately 19,126 students in Penn State are eligible to vote, according to the statistics in Penn State’s website. In general, people who are aged 20-35 years old are numbered at 62 million people according to the Pew Research Center, behind only people who are aged 36-51 at 70 million people. However, the voter turnout among young voters are low, with only 19% of people aged 18-29 coming out to vote in the election. By contrast, at 49%, almost half of the people aged 45-54 voted in the 2016 Presidential Election.


That is not to say that young voters are not entirely voting in recent years. In the 2018 midterms, 40.3% of the 10 million students tracked by Tufts University’s Institute for Democracy & Higher Education voted. This is more than double the rate of turnout in the 2014 midterm elections. The reason they are so motivated to vote is because of issues like climate change and the Trump Presidency. In addition, students vote strongly Democratic: in a March poll put out by the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, 45% of college students identified themselves as Democrats. However, there are strong roadblocks against student voting, and that comes in the form of voting eligibility from out of state students.


Currently, Penn State students have a policy that allows out of state students to vote early or mail an absentee ballot to their home state. However, politicians see these roadblocks to prevent out of state voting as preventing voter fraud. According to these politicians, the out of state ballots are voter fraud, not ballots. Despite these roadblocks and what politicians are trying to enact, college students must go out and vote, especially since Penn State allows out of state voting. If we don’t vote, we cannot bring forth the ideal future of the United States that we, as young minorities, want.

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21B HUB-Robeson Center

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