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Opinion

Students should take voting role seriously

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February 21, 2008

As I write this, the polls haven’t closed yet. In fact, they haven’t even opened. However, I can predict what will happen. I’ve seen it before. Students will turn out for Tuesday’s primary election late and vote for a number of candidates they haven’t even heard of. It’s doubtful that many of them will have done enough research to have a real valid reason for casting their vote.

Most likely they are much like I am, swept up in the hoopla for a particular candidate and are unable to separate fact from hysteria. I know my pessimistic tale of voter apathy comes too late for the Wisconsin primary, but maybe it will change someone’s opinion about voting in November, or even, brace yourself, in April. How many people knew there was an election in April?

In five years, I have worked on four elections, trying to get students registered and out to the polls. I don’t have an exact number, but I think I’ve registered somewhere in the ballpark of 15 million students around campus; at least it seems like it. To put this in a context many of you might understand, a hockey player’s jubilation after scoring a goal is a lot like what I feel after registering a student; except there is more paperwork for me. However, for all 15 million students I’ve registered, there are at least 30 million who’ve said no.

The same students, when I was a member of Student Senate, were those who would complain about high tuition and low financial aid.

The people you are voting for, in April and especially in November, will have an impact on your life. If you will still be going to school next year, they will have a huge impact on much of your student life. They’ll determine nearly every facet of your everyday life. Try to think of one action you do during the day that the government does not have at least some involvement in. From the electricity that powers the clock that wakes you up in the morning to the TV you watch as you fall asleep, government has played a role in you using it. Why don’t students want to help pick an individual who will be making some of those decisions for them? I’ve heard arguments from people that it is their right to not vote. True, I can’t really argue with that. However, have we gotten so complacent as a society that we have decided to forgo any voice which we still have?

There are a million and a half ways to get answers about candidates or find out where to vote, but students seldom use them.

In 2004, the University had approximately 70 percent of the campus vote. What were the other 30 percent doing?  Voting is easy, voting is quick and voting, believe it or not, is fun.

Last week Derek Brandt, the current president of senate, wrote a letter advocating students to run for office. I couldn’t agree with the encouragement more.

It’s easy to complain when an organization does not get enough money or a Senate vote is too controversial, but a lot harder to be actually making those decisions. I hope anyone considering running for Senate does so. If you’re not, then vote. Its easier than voting in the primary; you don’t even need to register.

Joe is a political science and international studies major. He has been involved in several activities on campus, including a last year’s Student Senate
president.

Joe Eggers is a fifth year senior from Appleton, Wis. He is a political science and international studies major. He has been involved in several activities on campus, including a stint as last year's Student Senate president.