#OurVoteCounts: Make Yours Count Too

October 12, 2016

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As the upcoming November presidential election draws near, there has been an increasing push for students at UVA to vote. So, why should you? I had asked myself this question after failing to “find the time” to register to vote for the primary election back in March of this year. I was busy with classwork, I didn’t know where to go or what to do, and worst of all, I didn’t even think my vote would really matter. I convinced myself voting wasn’t necessary— a decision I wish I hadn’t made. Coming from an immigrant family whose parents had to work to obtain their citizenship, I failed to realize for a long time just how important it is to have a say in leadership and policy making. My parents take their right to vote extremely seriously, viewing it as a way for them to participate in a fair and honest means of influencing decisions that affect their lives. This is what voting can do. It is true that voting is not a requirement, but voting is a responsibility. When you vote—no matter who you vote for—you are not only fulfilling your civic duty, you are using your voice to affect change.  More than simply being a part of a long-standing tradition, you will be standing for your beliefs and your views. Couple this with millions of voices and remarkable change can be brought about. In fact,3 according to The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, in the 2008 presidential election, the youth vote was decisive in securing Barack Obama’s victory in Indiana, North Carolina, and Virginia. Without these 80 electoral votes, Mitt Romney would have won the presidency.  Still think your vote doesn’t matter? Taken from the historical perspective, suffrage has not always been universal . In parts of the world today, the right to vote still isn’t guaranteed, and even if it is, it may not be accompanied by a peaceful exchange of power. For women, African Americans, and other racial and ethnic minorities, voting has not been a right easily obtained. It took hundreds of years before suffrage in the United States was finally granted to every citizen, and it remains underutilized. Our generation of young people must live with the consequences of what happens in the next few years. Our opinions matter now and will affect the view, diversity, and progress of our own futures as well as those of the next generation. Over the past few months, over 50 different media brands have partnered with the nonprofit organization Rock the Vote to give their support for the #OurVoteCounts movement. Rock the Vote works to register young voters and bring young adults to the sphere of politics. Iris is aligning with the #OurVoteCounts movement and wants UVA students to not only vote, but also to make their voices heard. Already, you may have seen   helping students get registered to vote in Charlottesville. It’s a choice you won’t regret. Register before the October 17th deadline at https://register2.rockthevote.com/registrants/map/ and we’ll see you at the polls!  

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