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Don't throw away your vote

BY MCCULLOUGH INGLIS | NOVEMBER 02, 2012 6:30 AM

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Recently, I heard a classmate say she planned to write in a candidate for president. Equally disgusted with both parties and their blame game on the economy, she figured a write-in would solve her problem at the ballot box.

This sentiment of disgust and its close corollary of apathy are in line with the drop in the youth vote from 2008 to 2012. While only a 51 percent of eligible young voters exercised their right to vote in 2008, estimates for the 2012 youth vote are low, despite 46 million of us being eligible to vote.

The reasons for the drop in young voter participation range from the feeling that President Obama did not deliver on the hope and change he promised in 2008 to the widespread “my vote doesn’t count” theory often held by young voters.

Yet throwing away your vote, whether by not voting or by voting with a write-in for president, is the surest way to keep the political situation stagnant.

Movement toward progress in this country has only succeeded when Americans decided to work through the system to expose the mismatch between policy and American principles. By revealing the discrepancy between the country’s Constitutional commitment to equality and the actual treatment of African Americans, the civil-rights movement was able to win such legislation as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Likewise, the women’s suffrage movement succeeded through the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which guaranteed the right to vote regardless of sex.

In the same way, we must work through the system to show the unconstitutionality of Guantánamo Bay, in which prisoners are denied due process, or the illegality of recent immigration laws in such states as Arizona or Alabama, where people are stopped without warrant, or the unconstitutionality of traditional marriage laws, which deny gay couples their rights under the equal-protection clause of the Constitution.

The change will come slower than we young people always hope, but we cannot give way to thinking the entire political process is bankrupt as we work toward it. At base, our system of government is a just one, and 46 million of us can say so on Nov. 6.


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