Why you should be politically engaged

NickGrowing up, it’s fairly easy to ignore the constant amount of political ads that can be seen on television and on billboards around town. For a majority of our lives, we haven’t been able to have any voice in elections, and it was easy not to care. Growing out of that mindset can be difficult, which is why there’s likely a few on campus that aren’t aware of the upcoming primary elections.

This year’s primary will involve GOP candidate hopefuls vying for who will take on Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin and Governor Pat Quinn. While both positions are incredibly important, it is likely the election for governor that will steal most of the spotlight, and for good reason.

Most of us living in Illinois are well aware of the abysmal state of the economy. Between stagnant business growth and the current unemployment rate, that are plenty of fingers pointing to who or what is the cause. Throw in the current pension crisis, and it becomes clear that whoever is elected governor will be carrying out some massive changes to our state.

Given how important this election is, now more than ever we need the voices of Illinois to be heard. Especially the younger ones.

Unfortunately, our age group doesn’t have nearly as strong of a voice as others.

Voters between the ages of 18-29 make up the smallest percentage, indicating a lack of concern for elections. Amongst college students, it’s better but not by as much as it could be. According to the Campus Vote Project, about 30.8 percent of those with college experience voted from our age group. That’s about twice as much as those with no college experience. Still, given how incredibly important voting is, this figure should be much closer to 100 percent.

For many students, this will be the first time they can vote. It’s a bit daunting, and the registration process can be confusing. Without proper encouragement, it can be hard to find a reason to want to vote in the first place. However, given the significance of this upcoming election, this is a critical time to get involved in the voting process.

In fact, for those of us that plan to live in Illinois, this is amongst the most important elections we could vote for. The governor that is elected will have the most immediate impact on many of us as we graduate and enter the career world. The transition from college to a career is a difficult one, and the current state and direction of the economy at that time will be a huge factor in determining just how difficult that transition is. Being able to help decide who that person will be directing our state is in everyone’s best interest.

It’s midterms and there’s likely been little else on people’s minds this week. Luckily, the polls open on March 18. Until then, take some time this spring break and do some research on the candidates that will be running in the primary. Rarely do political ads ever give an objective statement, and it’s important to get a grasp on who really stands for what. Find the person that best represents you and your beliefs, and then vote.  And remember, voting is a rare privilege in this world, one that we are lucky to have and need to take advantage of.

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