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“My generation never votes. It interferes with talking about ourselves all the time.”
Whenever I hear this quote from Jonathan, Jack Donaghy’s assistant on “30 Rock,” I always laugh. But those laughs slowly turn into sobs at the realization that this joke is just a cleverly disguised statement of fact about my own generation.
(CU Independent Graphic Illustration/Josh Shettler)
Although 2008 brought the second highest-ever American youth voter turnout for a presidential election (behind 1972, the first year that 18 year olds could vote), youth voter registration was only at 61 percent in 2008, according to a study by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement. The same study shows that the youth registration in 2004 was 60 percent, a five point increase from 2000. At least we’ve seen a slight increase in just two elections, which is good but not great.
What is worse, in Colorado, youth voter registration decreased from 2004 to 2008. Despite the 45 percent increase in University of Colorado Boulder voters in 2008, the number of youth voters registered dropped from 62 percent in 2004 to 58 percent in 2008. These are dismal numbers as it is, and the drop is even more disheartening for members of that hopefully growing 58 percent, such as myself.
Some may say that these numbers really aren’t that bad, considering that nationwide the youth vote is reaching the standards of the 1960s. But consider this: in Iraq’s first democratic election in 2005, 70 percent of registered voters came out to make their voices heard. After all, why not make your voice heard for the first time after decades of oppression? All of this was while their country, especially Anbar Province, was coming to the brink of civil war.
What is your excuse for not going out to vote? Is that level of Call of Duty keeping you? Voters in Iraq were playing real-life CoD in 2005, and they managed to voice their opinion in the midst of insurgency.
Although America has Iraq beat as far as percentage of registered voters actually voting, with 84 percent of registered American voters in 2008, that 84 percent is only 56.8 percent of the American population of voting age. That’s just over half of our population who can vote that actually did.
Does that look right to anyone? Barely half of our country, which was founded on the principle of a government by the people and for the people, took the time to be a part of that government in the last presidential election. Good work, 56.8 percent. You were, sadly, the largest American voter turnout since the 1968 presidential election.
To the other 43.2 percent, I ask: What the hell were you doing, America? What was so much more important than voting that you decided to throw away your right to be a part of democracy? Whether your excuse is that you didn’t know enough about the candidates, you couldn’t make it to the polls or you weren’t registered, none of those excuses fly in this election.
If you don’t know anything about the issues or the candidates for 2012, so what? The 2012 State Ballot Information Booklet, mailed to every registered voter, has all the unbiased information you need, from analysis to original initiatives, to make a decision on state amendments. For congressional candidates, their websites usually give detailed insight on what issues they support.
And for those pesky presidential candidates, every party has its platform laid out. From their websites, you can learn more about what issues Democratic incumbent Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney support as well as what Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein support.
If you can’t make it to the polls on Election Day on Nov. 6, opt for the mail-in ballot on your voter registration. You’ll even avoid waiting in line!
If you highly suspect the Post Office of conspiracies and don’t trust your ballot to the mail, early voting begins Oct. 22. There’s plenty of time between then and Election Day to make your voice count.
And if the only thing holding you back is not yet being registered, you’re in luck. Tuesday is National Voter Registration Day.
Contact CU Independent Entertainment Editor Avalon Jacka at Avalon.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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