When I think back to the 2008 November election one of the biggest issues I remember was the pressure to register to vote. I was a senior in high school at the time and most of my teachers told me the same thing: Just go register, voting is one of the most important things a person can do to help make progress in this country.
While that may be true, the actual participation at the polls is only half of the process. The other half comes from educating oneself on the candidates and issues on the ballot. No one pushed that concept on me during that election.
President Obama gave a speech at the end of September of this year urging college age students to vote in the upcoming midterm election. He voiced his concern that those who contributed to the high turnout of youth voters in 2008, which had the second highest youth voter turnout in American history (49.3 to 54.5 percent according to a poll taken at Tufts University in Massachusetts), will fall into the habit of only voting in presidential election
According to a recent ABC/Washington Post poll, Obama has a legitimate reason for this concern. Nearly 78 percent of 50-64 year olds say that they will be voting in the 2010 midterm election. With this number so high, it’s no wonder he’s trying to push the young vote.
Again, there is no push here for the education process behind the voting. The only thing that is mentioned is the act of voting itself. Not to sound too cynical here, but perhaps this is because educated or not, a vote is a vote to politicians.
Even on a small scale, education isn’t something many young voters have been pushed to take into account. A first-year student recently told me that when voting for Albion’s homecoming court, she didn’t recognize any of the female candidates, so she “picked the name that sounded prettiest.” I mean, it was just a homecoming ballot, but realize that’s what some people do in national elections too; just pick a name that sounds appealing.
That shouldn’t be any way to pick leaders of our country. It is our job to select politicians that we can hold to a certain standard. By not pushing voter education, especially among young voters, this concept of selecting the best for the country loses some of its value.
With the 2010 midterm election coming up in just over two weeks, it’s imperative to understand the issues at hand and what each candidate stands for. Participation does not necessarily equal progress. In order to truly move forward in a positive direction, emphasis needs to be placed on voter education, not just registration.