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Rock the vote Miscellaneous

For those of you living on Neptune, I have some news for you: today is Election Day.

And, after my last post about a lack of young people reading newspapers, I would be remiss if I didn’t use this blogging opportunity to discuss youth voting.

Everyone knows the rap on young people: they’re unengaged, they’re ambivalent, they don’t vote. Well, if RIT is a representative sample, that couldn’t be further from the truth. On this campus, there are active College Republicans and College Democrat clubs. Stroll through any parking lot and you’ll find countless cars loaded with political bumper stickers. There is a popular public policy program. What impressed me most, however, was how a group of students organized a “Rock The Vote” effort.

Twice this fall, once in early October and once last week, students manned a table in the Student Alumni Union lobby designed to encourage students to vote. It wasn’t politcally motivated, either. The goal was merely to help demonstrate the powerful voice that students can have in the political process.

During their first session, students were able to help more than 30 students register to vote. They hoped to do the same last week, before discovering that it was too close to the election for people to register. Yet, they set the table up anyway—deciding to utilize the opportunity to encourage students to head to the polls on Nov. 7.

That seems pretty engaged to me.

  1. Paul
    Nov 07

    You know, John, I can't remember a time when young people have had so much at stake. Certainly the war and national security are primary concerns, but college students should be beating the drum for greater awareness of issues like increased federal funding for student loans. As the old saying goes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

  2. Silandara
    Nov 08

    Am I still a "young person"? (I'm not 30 until next year!) I voted for the first time yesterday, having become an American citizen in April. After living here for 15 years and not being able to vote, being able to cast my ballot means something to me. I wonder how people (young or old) would feel if they no longer had that voting rights? Maybe it'd mean more to them then. Only 45% of voters in Rochester and 55% in Monroe County voted. That just seems incredibly low to me.

  3. John Follaco
    Nov 08

    Wow...I hadn't heard those turnout numbers yet. It's sad. I'd like to think it had more to do with the the toxic political environment turning off voters than pure ambivalence.

    That said, it makes me even more impressed that some students on this campus seem to get the importance of being politically engaged.

  4. Mike Saffran
    Nov 08

    While not in total disagreement with any comments here, one could look at the voter-turnout issue differently:

    While it’s true that historically low U.S. voter turnout may be indicative of ambivalence, it could also be interpreted as a sign of general contentment. Hard to believe? Look at it this way: Despite vocal opposition to the governing party among the electorate this year—particularly surrounding the management of the Iraq War—let’s face it, if Americans feared for their lives on a daily basis (as do those in some countries) or had other such monumental concerns, you can bet that voter turnout would be much higher.

    So, whether it’s termed “ambivalence” or “contentment,” the force behind it is really the same—and I’m glad to live in a country where people don’t feel the urgent need to vote. In fact, I’ve always been somewhat puzzled over the incessant cry to “get out the vote.” I subscribe to the (possibly politically incorrect) philosophy that the fewer people who vote, the less my vote is watered down. So, if next time you feel generally content, I urge you to stay home. Kudos, though, to Sil for your first vote—because it meant something. (Since turning voting age, I’ve missed only one election—and that was because I was assigned to cover Democratic election headquarters in Genesee County for WBTA.)

    I also disagree with the frequent comment, “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain about the outcome.” This is America—whether you voted or not, you're free to complain all you want! ;-)

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