Before arriving on campus, I knew Elon University championed civic engagement. I’ll admit that I check my email as often as I check Twitter, which is quite frequently, and I have received several emails encouraging me to vote this fall. One of those emails came from Jon Dooley, vice president for student life, in which he emphasized that Elon takes voting “very seriously” to foster civic engagement among students.
I agree with Dooley’s words about the seriousness of voting and being civically engaged and informed students. The college age demographic is notorious for lacking in voter turnout, and the numbers prove it. The United States Census Bureau reported that during the last midterm elections in November 2014, only 39.1 percent of eligible people ages 18 to 24 registered to vote and only 15.9 percent voted.
While college-age students are registering to vote, they’re not turning out. This age group has the lowest percentage of reported voters. The Elon Votes campaign appears to be a way to combat the low percentage of voters in this demographic. Creating an environment that encourages people to vote makes students knowledgeable and engaged with the obstacles facing the nation.
The problem is the importance of one’s vote is often overlooked, under-appreciated and undervalued. People want to stay away from politics because it is a polarizing subject, and while someone may not want to talk about politics, this doesn't mean they shouldn’t vote. Voting is a pivotal part of a democracy, and it is another way for students to express their political ideologies and make social changes.
Voting is a way for students to understand and connect with the different environment that the campus creates. Attending Elon creates a whole new community students are apart of, and students should want to be engaged and concerned for this community. The Elon community not only includes the university itself, but it also encompasses Alamance County, the surrounding cities and the State of North Carolina itself because they all connect to Elon in some way. Registering and voting in North Carolina is one way that students can be more attuned to the happenings of the greater community.
It is important to have fair and equal elections so voters can have confidence that their government is serving and representing them. Being students in Elon, North Carolina, and living here almost 10 months of the year should motivate students to want representation within the state. A surge of the student-aged demographic being a part of the electorate will make for a more balanced representation across the ages as well as molding a North Carolina identity for students.
To create an environment of “global citizens and informed leaders” here at Elon, the responsibility to vote falls on the students. I encourage everyone at Elon to vote because it allows one to be civically engaged with one’s personal ideology and the politics of the community and the nation.