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The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Opinion: Low voter turnout shows the importance of the college student vote

College+Vote+illustration
College Vote illustration

College students should become regular, active participants at the polls; by not doing so, they miss an opportunity to make effective change in their area.
Texas recently had a primary election, but voter turnout was low, even for a state that is notorious for low primary voter turnout. This trend did not escape the San Marcos area; KVUE noted that in mid-February, only 4.08% of Hays County registered voters (or 6,451) had cast a ballot. According to the San Marcos Daily Record, the number of registered voters in San Marcos that participated in the 2022 primaries was under 20%.
Considering that in 2021 Texas State boasted a record-breaking student body of 38,077, the numbers suggest that college students may be one of many groups in San Marcos who are not coming to the polls. However, college students should consider participating in the local electoral processes as they have a lot to potentially offer to the community as voters.
The main reason college students should consider voting is that if we began voting, we would hold a lot of power at the polls. Generation Z, which was born from 1997 to 2012, comprises the majority of college students today. The eldest Gen Zers completed college in 2020, and the majority are still in college and high school.
Gen Z is also the largest generation in American history and makes up 27% of the population. As a result, we as a generation hold more voting power than we realize. Roughly 19.4 million people were enrolled in college in fall 2020, and if we are able to maintain or even increase the record-breaking 66% of college student voter turnout in fall 2020, politicians will have no choice but to take note.
College students should consider voting because the policies being voted upon will impact us for years to come. Some policies, such as the student loan policy, have a direct impact on college students, while other policies, such as environmental, foreign and economic ones will affect us as citizens of America, even if we don’t immediately recognize these changes. If college students become more active participants in their communities by voting, they will begin to shape policy in the years and decades to come.
It is important to vote as a college student because students are, ideally, being well equipped to understand the American government and develop opinions about what is best for the nation and those who live in it. With core courses such as U.S. and Texas government and history, as well as major-specific courses that provide additional perspective, American college students spend every day learning about the country around them, as well as what works and what doesn’t. We are also learning important skills such as critical thinking, information analysis and fact-checking.
Every college student should begin researching the ballot for their next local election and register to vote today. College students are in an excellent position to become highly educated voters by researching candidates, engaging in political discussions with peers and professors and even speaking to campaigners on campus before casting their votes.
Students may argue that they will begin voting when they are older when the issues are more pertinent. Aside from the false idea that these issues are irrelevant to college students, studies show that voting is habit-forming. A 2003 study demonstrated that people who voted in previous elections are more likely to attend and vote in other elections. It is best to start voting when we are young, especially when college students have significantly more malleable schedules.
Some may also argue that voting doesn’t matter. I understand the cynicism as both main political parties are known to serve corporate interests over the interests of the people comprising them, as well as the marginalized groups who need it the most.
However, if the right to vote didn’t matter, there would not have been such a large effort to prevent Black people, women and other marginalized groups from gaining the right to vote. There would also not be as much of an effort to gerrymander votes, implement strict voter ID laws or prevent convicted felons from voting. Voter rights are essential, and I believe people worked too hard to gain the right to vote for others to throw it away out of cynicism.
-Tiara Allen is a marketing senior
The University Star welcomes Letters to the Editor from its readers. All submissions are reviewed and considered by the Editor-in-Chief and Opinion Editor for publication. Not all letters are guaranteed for publication.

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