Anita Babbitt

When my mom asked me recently if I was going to vote absentee in the November election in my home state of Illinois I hesitated, then asked, “What?” She explained that, on Election Day, if you are not in your home state, you can get an absentee ballot to vote by mail. In this year’s mid-term elections, every seat in the House of Representatives is at stake. Many senators, governors and state and local officials are also running.
My mom told me she would send me an application for an absentee ballot as soon as possible and that I will be able to vote by mail, but the truth is I have no idea who to vote for. Until recently, I actually had no idea who was running – I now know that there is a very close race for Barack Obama’s senate seat and for governor.
“Vote for all of the Democrats” is what my mom told me. I will probably do just that, but isn’t it irresponsible of me to vote for candidates based on their party instead of researching the people who are running?
When we were growing up, all of us looked forward to that day when we would turn 18 and get to be an adult and do adult things such as getting tattoos or piercings, smoking and voting. When you get to college, though, it’s easy to forget about voting.
We will all pay attention to the presidential campaign in 2012, but too many of us forget that we still need to vote for Congress and in state and local elections between presidential elections.
The numbers bear this out. The percentage of young adults from the ages of 18 to 29 voting in the presidential election has risen since 1996, from about 40 percent to about 50 percent in 2008. This may seem low, but it was a good turnout by young adults compared to previous years. The percentage of young adults voting in the midterm elections, however, is much lower; in 2006 only about 25 percent of young adults voted.
Why don’t we care as much about mid-term elections?
Voters in general don’t seem to care as much. Only 48 percent of eligible voters voted in the 2006 midterm elections, while 64 percent of eligible voters voted in the 2008 presidential election. There is typically less media coverage of midterm elections than presidential races. And there is the fact that you do not have a possible ruler of your nation running in the midterm elections that makes them less popular. So perhaps it doesn’t seem as important.
In fact, voting in midterm elections is vitally important because Congress has a huge impact on what goes on in all of our lives. Congress makes the laws, such as recent health care legislature – all of which have effects on us.
To put it bluntly: if you want Barack Obama to have an easier time passing his proposed laws, voting for Democrats in Congress will help him. If you don’t, then vote for the Republicans.
Not everyone associates himself or herself with the Democratic or Republican Parties, however, and there are plenty of Democrats and Republicans who do not agree with what the candidates of their party propose to do. There are many people who are a part of the Green Party, people who consider themselves libertarians and people who do not identify with any party. If you do not want to vote along party lines, then the solution is to research all of the candidates and find out if you agree with their policies or not.
And if you think about it, how hard is it to go on the Internet and research the candidates? It could take 20 minutes at the most. We cannot form our opinions of candidates based on what we see on television. Most of the campaign ads consist of candidates attacking others, not saying what their own values are or what they plan to do when they get to Congress.
So instead of just voting for the people who are aligned with a party, go research who is running in the midterm elections. Then go and vote. It’s easy. And it’s one way you can have an impact on your own future.