Opinion: voter inaction has consequences

General Opinion Graphic

Ramzy Al-mulla, Columnist

Politics are a mess right now. Everyone hates each other, nobody agrees on what’s factual, and the only thing anyone seems to agree on is how darned divided this country is. They can say all they want that people need to treat one another better, but what will really put an end to this is the purest emotion out there –outrage. When people let their outrage be known–whether it’s through activism, protest and yes, voting, it becomes impossible to ignore the will of the people. 

The best way to have your voice heard is with a ballot, and as all the hip politicians say, “it’s not sexy.” Voting is so important because it’s the only way to tap into what truly motivates these people–power. A politician’s job comes with a lot of it, and voting is the only way to put that on the line. Sure, it’s just one voice in a sea of milions, but Trump wouldn’t be in office if that stopped baby boomers. Twenty percent more of them turned out for the 2016 election than millenials, despite the latter having a record turnout that year.

Commenting on what drives young voters away from the polls, Oregon State University Professor of Political Science Richard Clinton said that “feelings of powerlessness” are a major contributor to a low turnout for young voters. 

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However, choosing not to vote is an action with a meaning behind it. When someone chooses not to vote, they are saying “I am okay with this.” They may not be totally indifferent to what is happening, but what they feel is irrelevant because the course of inaction they took exacerbates the issue. It is completely natural to feel disillusioned and powerless, but this cannot stop people from voting if they ever want to see change. 

Cynicism is not the only hurdle, of course. Students have a lot on their minds.

With regard to the struggle to stay informed, ASOSU President Pro-Tempore Dylan Perfect said, “the stressors of work, school and life in general, can make it difficult to be an informed participant in the electoral process.” 

Luckily, voting in this state is super easy. In-state students with a driver’s license are probably already registered to vote. Oregon residents can go to the state secretary’s MyVote website to check. 

All ballots in Oregon are by mail, which is awesome, but most students are likely registered under a parent’s address. Maintaining an up to date voting address during every election year is the absolute, bare minimum first step to voting in a state where the ballots are only distributed by mail. 

After checking for registration on the MyVote website, simply press “update registration” and fill out the address section. This can be done with no more than a name, birthday and DMV number. There really is no excuse when it is that simple.

As for out-of-state students, they can choose to either apply to vote in their own local elections with an absentee ballot or register to vote in Oregon, both which can be done on this website. 

Once registered to vote with an updated address, a ballot will start coming in the mail whenever there’s an election. From there, Nov. 6 is the deadline to fill it out and go to the Valley Library to drop it off at our on-campus voting box. Alternatively, there are many voting boxes near campus and downtown, or just buy a stamp and mail it normally.

Over two decades, our generation has seen some of the most contested elections in the history of this country. Voters dug this hole, and voters–old and new–have to fix it.