The importance of voting
Published 10/16/02 at the Duke Chronicle
November’s election is right around the corner, and it is worth noting at this point that our system of elections is one of the defining features of our country. All too often, our democracy is taken for granted, especially by the young, and it is therefore essential to call on college students, the leaders and citizens of tomorrow and thus those with the most long-term stake in this country, to go and participate in the vote.
Young people aged 18-24 constitute almost 13% of the voting-eligible population yet only 7% of actual voters; barely a third of them voted in the 2000 election, whereas 72% of those over 65 voted. And of course, children don’t vote. Is it any wonder then that issues like Social Security and Medicare get far more attention and dollars than education and college tuition?
Apathy among the young for political participation bodes ill for future policymaking. Our common engagement in social and national policy is the bedrock for key decisions in all facets of life, large and small, and distinguishes our society in so many ways from other societies where repression is the rule. What a jarring contrast the last year has afforded us – on Sept. 11, firefighters in the citadel of a free society hurled themselves at death to save others, while this past March, officials in Saudi Arabia, the nest of Islamic fundamentalism, blocked girls from fleeing their burning school because they did not have their head-scarves on, condemning them to death by immolation. Every point of view is aired freely on
But I digress. The point to note is that our common engagement in our nation is something to be proud of, cherished, treasured, and most importantly, nourished with our continued participation. There are so many issues at stake. Beyond