EDITORIAL: Voter Registration Day is important

Students should take interest in voting to improve their futures

As many students probably know due to its extensive endorsement at Rutgers, yesterday was National Voter Registration Day. By setting up numerous voter registration drives around campus, Rutgers’ Center for Youth Political Participation (CYPP) continues to play an important role in getting students registered to vote. Yesterday’s drives came in time for the New Jersey midterm elections, participation in which necessitates being registered by Oct. 16. Last school year, the Student Affairs Committee released a report on what action can be taken to increase student-voter turnout in all levels of elections. The report showed that voter registration rates among Rutgers—New Brunswick students were 76.6 percent in 2016 — a 3 percent increase from 2012 — and that a little more than half of the Rutgers students eligible to vote did so in the 2016 election. The more students who are registered to vote (and who actually get out and vote) the better, that seems obvious — but why? Well, there are many reasons, but one in particular may hit home for many young people: We are the future.

As of November 2016, approximately 62 million millennials were of voting-age in the United States, surpassing the 57 million members of Generation X and quickly approaching the 70 million Baby Boomers. The peak of eligible voters from the Baby Boomer generation was 73 million in 2004, but since then the group’s size has been declining. At the same time, the millennial electorate keeps growing and will predictably be the largest voting-eligible group soon. But simply being eligible to vote is one thing — actually getting out to vote is another. Millennials are known to be less likely to actually vote than older groups. But if mobilized, young people obviously have the ability to become a seriously powerful electoral force. 

Right now, there are decisions being made and laws being written by government officials who will not be around to see their effects come fully into fruition. These decisions are based on issues that young people care a lot about, such as the environment. Many climate experts warn of serious environmental consequences of people’s ongoing actions not so far down the road. These consequences are something millennials and their children may very well have to face — unless they get out and vote on it. Other issues that can have an effect on young students in years to come are things like social security — the benefits of which could potentially be greatly diminished by the time millennials reach the age of retirement — as well as the costs of higher education and policies about student loans, which could affect today’s students when they send their children to college. 

Of course, making changes to these things through elections entails millennials actually caring. Young students need to recognize the impact that electing the right government officials can truly have. But the simple process of becoming registered to vote can work to spark interest in these things. By promoting National Voter Registration Day and other means of registering to vote, students will become more aware of the importance of civic engagement. So it is important to continue to push the valid notion that students should vote today, so that they can live more comfortably tomorrow. 


The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 150th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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