If there is one thing we are starting to see more of in the media lately, it's the 2016 presidential elections. If you're a college student, this is more than likely the first presidential election in which you will be old enough to vote. As a college student, I hear a lot of different opinions based on whether or not to vote. Many times I have actually heard, "I'm probably not going to vote because I don't get politics and one vote won't make a difference." It's easy to think of yourself as one voter out of millions, but what about all the other people thinking the same thing? Votes add up and yes, all these votes can make a difference in an election. The reality is, we're adults now and as adults, we are given this great privilege to vote.
So really, how does the whole voting process work?
If you don't remember how voting works from your 7th grade constitution class, here's a basic run down. We the people, technically only have a partial say in the outcome. Sure, your single vote may not change the direction of an election, but it definitely helps. In November, unless you are a part of the electoral college, this will be your final vote cast in the election. The popular vote is the common vote and it is basically the vote that gives members of the electoral college an idea of what the people are thinking. Think of this as a survey! Each state has the same number of electors as its U.S senators plus the number of its U.S representatives. We vote for these electors because they have to make such an important decision! These electors typically vote based on the candidate that won the popular vote in their state, but there is no official rule stating they have to vote this way. That is why a candidate can win an election even if they didn't win the popular vote. These electors are your final decision makers and place their votes in December.
Okay, I get it...but I still feel like my vote doesn't matter.
You're vote does matter though! The reason behind the popular vote and the electoral vote is because when the U.S Constitution was created, our founding fathers thought a sole popular vote was a little too risky, but they also didn't want to give congress all the power of voting for our country. So, this was the resulting compromise. We are at an age where we have the opportunity to voice our opinion (with a little help, of course) and we certainly shouldn't take this opportunity for granted.
I feel like I don't know enough about politics to vote.
You don't need to know everything about politics, but you should have a basic understanding behind each politician's views and how they plan to create change and guide our country. Think about how a president's decisions might affect you in the future. What line of work are you planning to enter? How will the president support your ability to pay off student loans? How will you pay for your medical insurance when you can't stay on your parent's insurance anymore? Side note: You can no longer stay on your parents health insurance plan when you reach the age of 26. Is there a candidate with similar values as you that you wish to see represented? These are all important questions to ask yourself before you pick a candidate.
Of course there are more specific and important methods to consider when narrowing down the candidates. Think about following the candidates on Twitter, Facebook, or other social media. We are a generation that is all about social media, so keep updated with a candidate's campaign in your news feeds. The next easiest way to help guide your decision is by following the debates. If you didn't know or watch already, the first republican primary debate occurred on August 6, 2015. During the debates, a moderator will ask common questions that can help sway the public's decision. You may even find these questions interesting or something you've never considered, but important. You can base your decision off the candidates' responses, as these are questions they should be prepared to answer.
How will my vote change the future?
Placing your vote is just the beginning of how you can voice your opinion and change America. We are the next generation of leaders and it is up to us to shape our country the way we want. This leader will voice our opinions, aid in our decisions, and ultimately affect the lives we live for at least four years. Voting is maturity! It represents the point you have reached in your life to not just make decisions for yourself, but also for the ones you care about and others in this country. You have the potential to make history. Why waste this great privilege?