On this Memorial Day, like many other Americans, I can’t help but reflect on the sacrifice those who serve in the armed forces make, and have made, to protect our borders, our people and what we value as a nation.
I have even felt a certain level of responsibility. After all, voting means you, the voter, has a say in choosing the person that may become the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and I have voted in every election since I was eligible.
Freshmen entering college in the fall of 2018 will be eligible to vote in the 2020 presidential election and will find themselves in this very situation. Even before they finalize a major or career path, these students will have a say in what happens not only in their lives, but ours (their parents, teachers, and employers) and the impact will last for at least the next 4-8 years. Not that only the presidential elections are the most important! Every election is!
Freshmen: Voting is a very big deal
The beautiful thing about being able to vote is that, as a registered voter, your voice counts. So, freshmen, don’t give up your voice when you move to campus this fall. Here are 3 things you can do to make sure you’ll be able to cast your vote in the fall election:
- Register to vote where you currently live. This way, you will at least have absentee ballot as an option if something prevents you from voting on campus or at a community precinct.
- If you will turn 18 after you enroll in the fall and before election day, contact the Student Government Association (SGA) or the county government office and find out what you need to do to register in your college town. You may be able to find this out via a college Facebook page, the college’s web site, or at orientation.
- For complete details on voter registration requirements in your state, start here at the US government’s page: https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote.
To prepare for Election Day, which this year will be Tuesday, November 6, start learning about the candidates, where they were educated, what they stand for and how current issues relate to your life right now.
When it comes to politics, try find balance between noise and knowledge.
Follow the candidates on social media. Tune in enough to become informed but not so much that campaign banter becomes an obsession.
My first influence: President John F. Kennedy
May 29th is the anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s birth. My emotional connection to President Kennedy goes all the way back to first grade. He was the first president I learned about in school. His portrait hung in Mrs. Sampson’s first-grade classroom and I always had the feeling the watching over us.
At home, my parents talked about Kennedy and his family often — not so much about the president’s politics, more about the life of the first family based on whatever the newspaper, magazines, or the evening news reported at that time.
I’m sure this early fascination with the office of the president set some kind of standard or, at the very least, a direction that shaped my commitment to learn about the presidential candidates and to vote in every election.
Who have been your influences? Will you head to college prepared to vote in your very first election?
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Selective Service System – required for men, ages 18-25