By: Blair Hassett
“Voting is the expression of our commitment to ourselves, one another, this country, and this world.”Sharon Salzberg
For many college students, myself included, this is our first chance to participate in a presidential election. This is our first chance to cast a ballot, help choose a candidate that will lead the U.S. executive branch for the foreseeable future, and vote for a person who will represent our nation on both a domestic and global scale. We are some of the youngest members of our respective parties and have the ability to define and shape the world in which we live and will eventually leave to our children. No pressure!
In all seriousness, this may seem like an immense responsibility, and, truthfully, it is. But it is also an exciting opportunity to have your voice heard and to fight for the rights of the marginalized by electing candidates who prioritize the well-being of many over the interests of the few. Our electoral system may be imperfect, but the most effective way to change the system is not through apathy but engagement.
A vote is the single most powerful tool to affect environmental change. Voting for candidates who support domestic and international climate action, appoint qualified leaders to head the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, and fight to conserve the Earth’s dwindling resources is essential to protecting the welfare of both the environment and generations of American citizens to come.
An increase in divisive rhetoric over the past four years has magnified the importance of this election. But this is more than just a presidential election—this is an opportunity to support qualified candidates at the state and local level, as well as to support levies and vote for motions that have tangible impacts on your immediate community. And while voting is an essential step to engage with and protect the democratic process, it is not the only step necessary to maintain an effective system of democracy. Civic duty is the responsibility of being an engaged citizen year-round. These responsibilities manifest themselves in the form of protesting, volunteering, and running for office.
Many Americans have already cast their ballots—as of October 27, more than 65.5 million people had already voted, greatly surpassing the number of votes cast early in the 2016 election. Some polling locations offer same-day voter registration, so if you have not voted yet, please find your polling location and vote before the polls close in your state. Vote like the future depends on it.
Cover photo courtesy of Pixabay