It Begins with Registering to Vote

By Guest Contributor

In just 50 days, millions of Americans will head to the polls to choose the nation’s next president. They will line up to exercise the right that is theirs by virtue of citizenship. In doing so, they will fulfill that fundamental civic duty so vital to the health of our democracy.

For many of us, this year marks the first time that we are able to cast our ballots. Although it is tempting to be cynical about everything politics-related these days, the easiest way to make a difference is by voting. When you walk into that voting station on Election Day, or more likely, fill out that absentee ballot in your dorm room, you are empowering yourself and telling the world that you want your voice to matter.

Still, you might believe that your vote won’t make a difference in a nation of 300 million. But just imagine how many people out there are thinking the exact same thing. Think about what might happen if the couple million of you decided to give voting a chance. In a year like this one – when the result of the election is widely expected to be roughly a 50-50 split – those couple million votes will very much decide our next president.

Even so, you might say, “I’m from Massachusetts; it’s going to go Democratic anyway.” Or “I’m from Maine; we have so few people it doesn’t really matter.” Think again. Although it’s true some states like Massachusetts are in the bag for the presidential race, there are plenty of other reasons to turn out and vote. For one, Massachusetts has a hotly contested Senate race that could decide the balance of power in that chamber of Congress. Maine – though small in size – has an important gay marriage proposition on the ballot this fall.

Regardless of what your beliefs are and what gets you riled up, just vote. If you don’t, there is no reason for those in power to listen to you – and you lose your right to complain. A ballot is your most potent weapon in a democracy. Just think about it: you have the power to hire and fire the people who run your country. How could anyone refuse to exercise such a right?

For all those reasons above, you should drop by the Gifford Amphitheatre sometime today between 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. and register to vote. Already registered? Come apply for an absentee ballot. No matter which state you hail from – or even if you have never voted before – students from MiddVote will be there to help. The deadline for registration is just a couple weeks away in most states, so now is the time to get this done.

Voting is a gift that millions of people around the globe, from the rebel fighter in the bloodied streets of Syria to the brave lawyer behind bars in rural China, yearn and struggle and die for. Even in this country, voting was never a given. It’s a gift that many generations of Americans have fought to save from the doorsteps of tyranny, when the first shots were fired in Lexington, on the hallowed grounds of Gettysburg, in the trenches and on the beaches of Europe. It is our generation’s turn to ensure that the blood of all those who came before us was not shed in vain. It is our generation’s turn to honor the struggles of those civil rights heroes that made it possible for many of us to step into the voting booth. It is our generation’s turn to take responsibility for this great republic.

It begins with registering to vote.

Written by MiddVote