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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

EDITORIAL: Register early, vote often

Photo by Meredith Gillespie
Nick Truog (left), a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, helped student register to vote in the AMU on Monday, Sept. 12.

For the majority of Marquette students, the Nov. 8 election will be their first time voting for President of the United States. This is an exciting and important duty that we are fortunate to have in this country and one that we cannot not let go to waste. Now is the time to make sure we are registered, informed and ready.

For the primary election in April, the overwhelming amount of students who had not preregistered to vote created hours-long wait times, barring some students from even voting at all. To make sure they are ready for November, students should be proactive today by registering to vote in the Alumni Memorial Union and educating themselves on the presidential candidates and also those running for local offices.

At first glance, the line snaking through the bottom level of the AMU seemed like a physical representation of increased excitement and participation among college-age voters this election.

There was increased youth voter turnout in Wisconsin’s primary — 33 percent, up from 25 in 2008, according to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement — but there is room for improvement. An NPR article explained how the millennial vote could soon start to outweigh that of the baby boomers, that is, if 18-35 year-olds actually make it to the polls. The US Census Bureau cites that voters ages 18-24 have consistently voted at lower rates than all other age groups in every presidential election since 1962.

Our vote is extremely important. According to the Campus Vote Project, 18-29-year-olds make up 21 percent of the nation’s eligible voters. Our generation’s ideas and actions will be the future of the nation.

In a highly anticipated and widely publicized presidential election like 2016’s, it’s easy to be enthusiastic about casting a vote, especially if it’s your first time. But this civic duty does not happen just once every four Novembers. Smaller, local elections occur several times per year, and the people elected to these offices have a more significant impact on our day-to-day lives than Clinton or Trump will. Unfortunately, voter turnout for these elections reaches usually not more than 20 percent.

In April, around 310,000 people in Milwaukee county voted in the presidential primary, but only 80,000 voted for county district attorney in August.

Of the nearly 40,000 people living in the city’s fourth aldermanic district, where Marquette is located, barely 7,000 voted for alderman in April. In that race, Monique Kelly lost to Bob Bauman by only 1,149 votes. (You may recognize his name from a recent Sobelman’s snafu.)

In a presidential race in which millions of votes around the country are cast, it’s difficult to understand how one individual’s vote can make a difference. But in an election like that of Bauman versus Kelly, the populations of McCormick and Schroeder Halls could have swayed the outcome.

So be prepared: there will be more than two names on the ballot come November. Here at Marquette, we will vote for Wisconsin U.S. senator, U.S. House Representative and state senate and assembly representatives, among others.

Read about these candidates and their ideas, form your opinion and take advantage of this opportunity to have a real impact on government. For the next four years, these local leaders will have strong decision-making power as they represent our community at the state and federal levels.

Taking an active role in all levels of U.S. democracy is a lifelong habit that we can begin to develop now. There is no excuse not to vote. As this week’s “The Wire Explains: Voter Registration” article puts it, Marquette makes it easy for us to be prepared. It’s not just born-and-raised Wisconsinites that can vote in Milwaukee. Registering ahead of time, by Oct. 19, is encouraged. From now until then, every day from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. students can register at Union Station in the AMU. If you aren’t preregistered by that date, you’ll face an extra-long line on election day.

Nicole Sapio, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, was not aware of voter registration back in April. She went to the AMU, stood in line for about an hour and half, then had to go to class. She went back around 5 p.m. to vote, which took about another two hours. In the end, she was able to cast her ballot, but she noticed many people were probably deterred from voting upon seeing the long line. Sapio said voting is important enough to spend half her day waiting in line “because it’s our civic duty as Americans,” and “if you don’t vote, you can’t complain.”

Marquette succeeds in its responsibility of developing students into informed, educated and intelligent U.S. citizens. Individually and as a whole, our decisions this November will have an impact on our government. Now, it is our responsibility to make sure we are ready for this election and to remain dedicated to our democracy for each one after that.

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