EDITORIAL: Student voters must be informed first
Young people have power to make change for themselves
The Student Affairs Committee recently drafted a on what action might be taken to effectively increase student-voter turnout in federal, state and local elections. The draft discusses ways to address the need for more students to have knowledge about how to register to vote, and how to actually go about voting once registration is complete. Suggestions are also made in the draft on how to increase student-voter turnout, such as making election days holidays. According to the report, voter registration rates among students at Rutgers—New Brunswick were a strong 76.6 percent in 2016, which is an increase of 3 percent from 2012. A little more than half of Rutgers students eligible to vote did so in the 2016 election.
Young people in general actually have an enormous capacity to be an extremely in the political realm — if they were to actually get out and vote, that is. But this brings up an interesting question, and one which some might view as offensive before further reflection: Is it in the country’s best interest for so many of its young people to take the reigns in terms of electing government officials?
Considering the fact that kids are not even legally allowed to drink alcohol until the age of 21, it is clear that there is some sort of underlying societal idea that young people can be impulsive and somewhat naive at times. When it comes to politics, many young people in the United States today , uninterested or a combination of the two — but that is not to say this should not change or that young people are more uninformed than those older than them, because there are many uninformed people in all age groups. But in regard to young people specifically, the report mentioned earlier addresses ways to increase voter turnout among students, but there seems to be an aspect missing. Students that are being encouraged to get out and vote should also be encouraged to take an interest in learning about politics and the candidates they are voting on. Voting while uninformed on the issues is reckless in any case, and a large number of uninformed voters can result in unwanted consequences. And on the other hand, a large group of informed voters can likely turn out to be good for the nation as a whole, at least if there are good candidates in the running.
Students not only need to be encouraged to register and to actually vote, but to know and care about what they are voting for. Making it a necessity to teach young people these things would be similar to an investment in our country’s future good. By introducing the idea of not only the importance of civic engagement for young people but why it is important, we can make more interested and engaged future voters.
In this day and age, the popular issues are relating to young people more and more. Issues like school shootings, sexual assault and student debt are things that young people can be quite passionate about, and are things that perhaps not enough young people know a lot about. So with that said, not only should students be educated on how to go about voting, but they should know and care about what they are voting for, and also what they are voting against. We know that in the past young people have been able to make huge impacts on the wave of society, and we have faith in the young people of today’s world who seem to be largely more compassionate than ever.
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