Election Day Is Right Around the Corner

Jessica Bourse

Election Day is just around the corner: a day when millions of Americans will cast their ballots as the rest of the world waits and watches. It’s a day where the people get to exercise their right to vote and help decide the future of our country. It’s a day where your opinion matters.

It’s our duty as citizens to participate in the democratic process. Cesar Chavez once said, “We don’t need perfect political systems; we need perfect participation.”

The fact that the 2004 presidential election had a voter turnout of only 55.3 percent is both dumbfounding and embarrassing. In 2007, Uzbekistan had a voter turnout of 90.6 percent. Why aren’t Americans voting?

“My vote doesn’t count.” We’ve all heard that one – maybe a couple of us have even said it. Your vote doesn’t count if you don’t vote.

Why should you vote?

There is too much at stake for you not to vote. When we elect a president, the impact of our choice will be felt in the years to come. Although the president’s term only lasts four years, the president has the power to nominate a Supreme Court justice, should one retire, and a justice serves the court for life.

Our next president will most likely appoint two to three justices, seeing that four out of the nine are over the age of 70, with John Paul Stevens being the oldest at the age of 88. In the Supreme Court, one vote goes a long way – what about three?

On Nov. 4, the California voter’s ballot will also include 12 propositions. These propositions include issues such as: bonds on alternative fuels and renewable energy; a ban on gay marriage; a waiting period and parental notification before a minor can undergo abortion; a bond for veterans; an expansion of legal rights for victims of crime, as well as the restriction of early releases for prison inmates.

Your vote can make a difference.

In 1990, a non-profit organization called Rock the Vote aired its first public service announcement in which a platinum blonde Madonna, wrapped in the American flag, called upon the nation’s youth to get out on Election Day and vote.

Since 1972, there was an ominous decline in the numbers of young voters, however, because of organizations such as Rock the Vote, millions of young Americans have been inspired to take action and get involved in the electoral process.

In 1992, more than 2 million new young voters flocked to the polls, reversing 20 years of electoral shame, and creating a 20 percent increase in youth voter turnout – all thanks to organizations like Rock the Vote, who believe in the power of the youth vote.

On Sept. 23, controversial filmmaker Michael Moore released a full-length film, “Slacker Uprising,” documenting the 2004 election and the rising involvement of America’s youth in the electoral process. Regardless of Moore’s political views, the film displays the power we have when we work together and get politically involved. The documentary is available free of charge at Slackeruprising.com/download.

With such a competitive race to the White House, the youth vote may be the key to winning the presidency. This year, an estimated 44 million 18-29 year-olds are eligible to vote – that is one-fifth of the entire American voting population!

How can you get involved and make a difference?

The first step is registering to vote. The California voter registration deadline is Oct. 20.

An online voter registration form can be found on Rockthevote.com. There are also tables open in Plaza Vaquero during noon, registering students to vote.

In order to register, you must be 18 and a U.S. citizen. Any questions on registering can be answered by our Secretary of State at (800) 345-VOTE or on the Rock the Vote Web site.

First-time voters should remember to bring identification with them to the polls. A photo-ID, such as a diver’s license or your GCC ID will do. Non-photo IDs, such as bank statements and sample ballots are also allowed.

The second step is informing yourself on the issues. Does the national unemployment rate of 6.1 percent bother you? Are you satisfied with health care? Make sure to think analytically and read into both sides of an argument before making your ultimate decision.

The third step is simple: go out on Nov. 4 and vote. It doesn’t matter if you vote as a Democrat, Republican, Independent, or a Libertarian. What matters is that you voted for what you believe is right.