Voting is crucial to our US system

Kyle Simpson

The most important part of being an American is taking part in the system that allows us to help shape our country — democracy — and, unfortunately, most young people aren’t participating. 

Voting is one of the most important civil responsibilities that we have as Americans. It is easy to forget that when this country was founded, the concept of a representative democracy was unheard of. Even today, electing a leader is a right that not everyone in the world has. For these reasons, it is important that all citizens vote.

According to the CIRCLE organization, only 51 percent of Americans ages 18 and 19 voted in 2008. Then in 2010, turnout among these ages dropped to 21 percent due to a lack of well-publicized and polarized presidential candidates. 

I bet a lot of the people who complain about things like Obamacare, foreign policy actions and the partisan gridlock in Washington are the same ones who stay away from the polls in November. An engaged electorate is the only way to have leaders that actually react to the will of the people, and the University could play a role in fixing the problem.

The most likely reason young people do not vote is that they are not registered. September was National Voter Registration Month, and the University should have participated more.

Instead of sponsoring the Health Hut telling us about $5 gyro night at Glory Bound, there could have been voter registration stations. Registering can be a hassle; you have to print and fill out a form, find a stamped envelope and mail it or drive somewhere to drop it off. It would be easier to stop for only five minutes on the Quad and be done with it.

Even a campus-wide campaign to promote voter registration would make a difference. Anything would be better than the almost nonexistent current effort.

As a public university, The University of Alabama and its student organizations have a responsibility to our country to actively encourage civil participation. This is the country that most of us will be living in for decades to come. Shouldn’t we have a say in how it’s run?

Kyle Simpson is a sophomore majoring in biology. His column runs biweekly.