Do your civic duty on November 6

Do+your+civic+duty+on+November+6

The Wood Word, Editorial Board

Even in its early stages, this year’s election has sparked heated debate among people of all ages. The clash between parties has been in the media’s spotlight for months.

This debate seems to be an especially popular discussion among college students. In fact, according to political scientist Kent E. Portney of Tufts University, “American college students today are actually very engaged in politics to the point that they are much more likely to know the names of their U.S. senators or congressional representatives than the names of winners of ‘American Idol.’”

Yet, according to The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), in the 2010 midterm elections, the voter turnout for young adults age 18-29 was only 24% of the eligible youth voters. This is a very low percentage for a group of people who discuss political issues so regularly.

According to the U.S. Census, specifically in Pennsylvania in 2012, there are an estimated 1.9 million 18-29 year-old citizens eligible to vote, but in 2008 only about half of that age group actually cast a ballot in Pennsylvania. The lack of active participation by young adults in elections is disheartening since the 18-29 year old age group makes up about a quarter of the eligible voters in the U.S.

Further research from CIRCLE revealed that there are several significant barriers that keep young adults from turning out to vote. Of those that did not vote in 2008, 40% of 18-29 year-olds surveyed said that they did not vote because they did not care or were not involved in politics, 21% said they did not meet registration deadlines, while 6% said that they did not even know where or how to register and 4% did not meet residency requirements/did not live here long enough.

Some of these barriers could be broken very easily if these young adults were aware of how and when to register to vote. In Pennsylvania, registering to vote is a somewhat simple process. There is a voter registration form to fill out that can be done in person at a county voter registration office, at a government agency office like PennDOT, or by mailing in the form. Registration must be completed 30 days prior to an election in order to vote. Local registration can be done at 2400 Stafford Ave, Scranton, PA 18505.

However, other barriers, such as those who said that they did not vote due to lack of interest, may be harder to break. But for those who use apathy as an excuse not to be involved in politics, there are a few important facts they should know.

As U.S. citizens, they have countless freedoms and privileges afforded to them from birth, which are unlike any other country in the world. In return for these privileges, citizens have a few simple civic responsibilities that include paying taxes, serving jury duty, obeying the law, and voting. Part of being a responsible citizen is being informed and participating in elections, whether local or national.

In order for anyone to make a difference in this country’s policies and behaviors, people must vote. Your vote is your voice; it is your say in what happens next in our nation. It is a citizen’s civic duty and a privilege to register to vote and cast that ballot on Election Day. So do your part. Get informed. Register. And most importantly, vote.

For more information on voter registration in Pennsylvania visit www.votespa.com. And for more information on youth participation in elections visit: http://www.civicyouth.org/