In next year’s presidential election, most of this year’s seniors and a handful of juniors will be able to vote. This raises the issue of whether or not they should utilize their constitutional right to vote. Regardless of political leanings, many students are not well-versed on the candidates, the candidates’ stances on important issues and sometimes even their own political views. Many students only parrot what they hear at home or on TV, without informing themselves on the issues in order to form their own opinions. Being uneducated and uninformed prior to the election is possibly one of the biggest dangers our country faces.
Too often, voters identify themselves by party and then don’t consider voting bipartisanly. This can sometimes lead to a mislabeling of an individual’s views where a student identifies his/herself as a member of a certain party (due to surrounding influences) while in actuality his/her views align with another party.
With pivotal issues on the table like reproductive rights, immigration reform and climate change action, it is important that voters break out of their self-assigned boxes to examine the stances of possible candidates in multiple parties and then evaluate where their views fall within the spectrum of candidates and their policies.
Even if students take the time to stay informed on current political topics, many will be too young to vote in the primaries, a critical point in the election process that decides the candidates representing the two largest, most influential parties. This somewhat limits the youth influence, especially on the left where a group of young people have rallied around Democratic candidate, Bernie Sanders. In Sanders’ case, the youth vote is imperative – a situation that is not comparable to any other candidate’s, Democrat or Republican.
Regardless of personal views, party alignments and candidate choices, students should exercise their right to vote when they reach age 18, but they should be willing to take the time to research, examine and evaluate the prevalent issues and where each candidate’s policies align with the action the student would like to see come 2016.