Voting is not just a privilege—it is a necessity

Educate yourself with these resources to engage in American democracy.

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Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Brianna Clark, Opinions Editor

The presidential election is only 28 days away and for many Biola students, this is the first election they are able to vote in.  Even for those who have voted before, they may feel young, inexperienced and not educated enough about politics to truly understand what is on the ballot. However, our voices matter more than ever in these upcoming weeks. Millennials and Generation Z constitute 37% of the voting population, which is more than any other singular generation. 

Without the vote of young adults, our democracy falls short of hearing everyone’s voice on the decisions of our country. We need to educate ourselves and we need to vote, or this nation will determine our futures without our input. 

A VOICE FOR THE VOICELESS

People did not fight for our right to vote throughout history only for us to skip out on election day. More importantly, there are millions counting on our votes because they are not allowed to cast their own.

The right to vote for several people groups has been a long and hard-fought battle—and some are still fighting. American territories and districts have unequal representation in Congress, including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and the District of Columbia. Each territory or district has a delegate who represents them in the House of Representatives, can speak and propose bills, but ultimately cannot vote on the House floor. There is zero representation for them in the Senate. 

Most states deny voting rights to felons and no states allow noncitizens and undocumented immigrants to vote, even those with a green card. Some states extend the voting ban for felons on parole or after a certain period of time post-incarceration. All of these citizens—territories and districts, felons and noncitizens—pay taxes to a government that does not give them a say in their rights. 

AN EDUCATED CHOICE

With COVID-19 still abound, voting can look overwhelmingly daunting. Each area has varying restrictions or rules for voting, depending on whether or not in-person polls will be available. 

In addition, the ballot includes more than just the presidential vote. There are also congressional candidates, local candidates and propositions to choose from. At this point, it may feel more like studying for a test than exercising a given right. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of resources to help prepare us. The United States government provides explicit instructions for how to vote by mail and different polling locations per state, and Ballot Ready explains each candidate and referendum that will be on your ballot. If you are unsure of where you stand, politically speaking, ISideWith is a site that allows you to explore your views and will help you navigate who in politics you most align with. 

Although it may seem like a load of homework, it is incredibly necessary to educate ourselves so that we can make informed decisions on our ballot choices. Each proposition will affect real people, even if some of them will not affect us, personally. It is vital that we take voting seriously for the sake of those whose lives depend on it. 

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 19 in California, but may be different for other states. Mail in ballots should be sent in by the end of October to be received before Nov. 3. Use this opportunity to participate in this country’s democracy. Voting is a right that should not be taken for granted. 

Our country runs on our voices—let us not be silent. 

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