To the Editor:
We’re sure you’ve heard it a million times before. We’re sure you’ve scrolled past a “register to vote” meme on Facebook or have swiped through a voter registration filter on Snapchat. But we’re not sure that the message has stuck with you. And we’re telling you here, student to student, Cornellian to Cornellian, friend to friend, to make sure it sticks.
According to the Campus Vote Project, turnout among college students has reached record lows in recent years. Only 17 percent of eligible 18-24 year olds voted in a recent election. We have seen the consequences of that low turnout throughout the nation. Along with policy changes such as tax breaks for the wealthy, reversals in climate change legislation and a decrease in access to affordable medical care for all, we have two new conservative justices, continual verbal attacks on women and minorities by the president and serious challenges to the stability of our democracy.
You should register to vote and then you should actually vote. If we’re being honest, you have to vote. Below, we’ve outlined just a few of the reasons why:
You are a college student, which means it is probably one of the first times you have been able to vote. We are privileged to have numerous educational resources available to us on campus, and there is active support from multiple groups to help make voting accessible. Exercise your vote now at a time when a campus is supporting you.
It is your civic duty. This is the reason that is the most “eye-roll worthy,” but that doesn’t make it any less true. Multiple groups of Americans have been denied the right to vote in the past, and they continue to be denied that right. Is it not our duty to vote if we can? Is it not our duty to vote so that we can elect officials who will destroy barriers to voting? Is it not our duty to engage in our democracy?
Kavanaugh. What has transpired this past week is not justice. We have seen our Senators confirm a man accused of sexual violence to the highest court in the land — a court whose purpose is to uphold justice and freedom. His confirmation is an utter disregard of the experiences of victims and survivors. It demonstrates a prioritization of conservative ideology and loyalty to President Trump over basic human decency. At the same time, this event is a call to action to vote and unseat the Senators who confirmed him, such as Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Additionally, we must support those who voted with their conscience instead of doing what was politically expedient such as Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla). The confirmation is a call to action to honor all those courageous enough to come forth and share their stories. The confirmation is a call to action to restore justice to a government that has overlooked it for too long.
Registering to vote is hard. We know. But we are also here to help. Please come visit our voter registration table on Ho Plaza, visit any of the many tables on Ho Plaza this week in partnership with the Tri-Council Voter Registration Drive (10/10 – 10/12), or get in contact with the Andrew Goodman Vote Everywhere Coalition. And please, register to vote before your deadlines. For New York State (for those of you registering with your Cornell address in Ithaca), it’s this Friday, October 12. You can also check registration deadlines, confirm whether you are registered, request your absentee ballot or fill out an online registration form at www.vote.org for any of the 50 states.
Voting may seem like a small action — merely a few boxes checked on a piece of paper or the quick press of a button. However, it is a constitutional right that few are afforded around the world. We have an obligation to each other to care enough about our democracy to actively participate in it. Even more importantly, we owe it to ourselves to lift up our voices through electing people who will fight for justice on a daily basis. Be an engaged citizen. Be an advocate for equality. Be an agent for change.
Isabelle De Brabanter ’19
Maya Cutforth ’20
Liz Sherman ’21
Vale Lewis ’21
Luciano Hamel ’19
Ava Pacheco ’21
Jack Ross-Pilkington ’21
Alex Adamek ’19
Geneva Saupe ’21