Why every student’s vote counts on Election Day
The act of juggling work, school and family obligations leaves many students feeling like they don't have time to take part in the political process. But political science experts say it is critical for students to do their civic duty and cast their ballots on Election Day.
“People are busy paying bills or taking care of their children or parents or working or whatever the case may be, so there is not a lot of time to be a citizen; which is sort of ironic,” observed Craig Dicker, a faculty member in the College of Humanities and Sciences and the College of Education at University of Phoenix. “Because, really, that is their most important job. Without the citizen piece, nothing else matters because nothing else is there. It has a significant impact on every single thing that happens to you every minute of every day, whether you realize it or not. We live in a country that requires its citizens to be involved.”
Voting behavior helps determine what issues are addressed by legislators, according to Dicker. Politicians pay more attention to the groups they know will show up to the polls on Election Day, which means the issues pertinent to one demographic will get more play than those concerning another group that votes in smaller numbers. Dicker says this is why the government spends so much time focused on certain issues, while appearing to ignore others.
“For young people and students, the only way they are going to change that dynamic is by getting out, voting and requiring that politicians respond to their demands,” he said. Dicker adds that issues like education, student loans and the environment, which tend to be important to students, are largely "back burner issues" in Washington.
“Even though politicians may talk about them a lot during campaigns — relative to the way that our government spends money — they matter almost not at all,” he said. “And that will only change if politicians understand that those issues matter to the people who are putting them in office.”
In addition to the reward of seeing choice issues under serious consideration by legislators, Dicker says simply having the right is another key reason to vote.
“If you look around the world even today, there are people who are oppressed, uninformed and can't vote,” said Dicker. “We have more access to impact our government than we have arguably ever had before, however small it might be, and we have so much more than anybody else on this planet.”