In the midst of a chaotic start to a new semester, the 2008 presidential race is in full swing. With only one caucus and one primary out of the way, Democratic presidential hopefuls Joe Biden, Chris Dodd and Bill Richardson have dropped out of the race for the White House. As the first election without incumbents since the 1928 presidential election, “change” is the theme dominating the campaign trail. The issues are as diverse as the candidates themselves, and it is imperative that everyone heads to the polls this November.
The general election is the last step in the long process to becoming President of the United States. Primary elections are conducted by state and local governments who do not hold caucuses. A candidate who wins a state primary election is supported by that state in the national convention. One candidate from each political party runs for office in the general elections.
Politics for the upcoming year range from the economy and healthcare, to the war in Iraq and immigration. While both parties differ greatly in their policies, each party advocates a moderate stance on all issues to appeal to a greater audience.
A small portion of this greater audience consists of adults between the ages of 18 and 24 who, statistically, come out to vote in the lowest percentages. According to CNN, only 29% of voters between this age group voted in the 2000 presidential election. While every vote makes a difference, students vary in opinion on the significance of student voting.
“I believe that since students represent the new generation of American voters…[their] vote is particularly important because it reflects the future of American political life,” said Igor Coropceanu, a first-year Chemistry major. “Students have always been a dynamo of change, and this period is in dire need of great transformation. I would like students to make an informed decision based on logical calculations of the candidates and not based on passion.”
Some students, however, disagree. “I do not think that the presidency hinges on student voting,” said Connor Carolan-Tolbert, a fourth-year Public Policy major and chairman of the College Republicans. “However, I do believe they are able to impact the elections, especially later on in their lives as they continue to vote.”
“Typically, young people are underrepresented, but results from the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary show twice as many young voters coming out as in 2004,” said Griffin Wasdin, a fourth-year Civil and Environmental Engineering major and president of the College Democrats. “Normally ignoring us, the two parties and their campaigns are now aggressively courting young voters.”
“One of the biggest issues in this election is illegal immigration,” said Carolan-Tolbert, “so I’d like to see some kind of comprehensive immigration reform passed by Congress.”
A new year calls for drastic changes. Different ideas should be met with different policies. Voting is a privilege of any U.S. citizen 18 years of age and older who meets the residency requirement of his or her state. In Georgia, you do not have to register by political party in regular primaries or the general elections.
You can register to vote in one of several ways: by either downloading and mailing in the voter registration application found online at www.register-vote.com, registering to vote when renewing or applying for your driver’s license, or requesting a registration form at your school’s registrar’s office. Take advantage of your opportunity to influence your government. Head to the polls in November and exercise your civil duty.