With the national elections coming up this November and the South Orange Board of Trustees election next May, I think it is important I write about the issue of voting. There are an unbelievable number of people who - when asked why they didn't vote - have told me that they don't believe their vote mattered. Folks your vote matters a great deal! Your vote is the reason that America is America! This nation was founded by a few enlightened men sitting around a pub table who thought one night, "You know - it's not fair that our decisions are being made by representatives who live 3,000 miles and an ocean away." That was their thinking 228 years ago, and it still applies today. The founding fathers refused to be represented by a government they didn't vote for, and they fought for the right to elect their own government. Still there are millions of people who are being represented today- IN AMERICA
- by people they didn't vote for, simply because they decided to be apathetic on election day.
Now not to overload you with numbers, but I love stats, and I think statistics might shed some light on the problem that voter apathy is becoming in America. So here's some numbers:
- Out of 205,815,000
people eligible to vote in the United States during the 2000 election, only 105,586,274
turned out to vote. That is just a few more than half of the eligible voting population. HALF!!
- The age group of 18-24 year olds, to which most of us SHU students belong, makes up about a third of the U.S. population. Now get this, only about 25% of 18-24 year olds actually get out to vote. That means that our vote was only 8% of all the votes counted, WHEN IT COULD HAVE MADE UP A THIRD OF THE VOTES COUNTED
. Now a lot of people in the 18-24 y/o bracket feel the government doesn't pay enough attention to our issues and to our concerns. Well can you blame them? Politicians make careers of appealing to their voters... if we make up only 8% of the vote - why should they be concerned with us? I'LL TELL YOU WHY!
We could make up a third of the total vote. If we all got out and voted we could make up a third of the voting population and then you can bet your last dollar that our elected officials would be listening to us.
- Finally - and in the land of the free, the land of democracy and liberty, this is quite the embarrassing statistic - the countries of Australia, Tanzania, Ukraine, Northern Ireland, Nicaragua, Iceland, and virtually every other nation in the world have a higher voter turnout than the United States. In fact the only countries where there are lower voter turnouts than here are Bulgaria, El Salvador, Guatemala, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. We are the nation that started it all and yet we have the SIXTH
lowest voter turnout in the world.
But it isn't hopeless. There is something we can do about this growing problem. GET OUT AND VOTE
. I'm tired of people telling me that their vote doesn't matter.
- In 1868, ONE VOTE
was the deciding factor in keeping the impeached President Andrew Johnson in office.
- In 1876, ONE VOTE
elected Rutherford B. Hayes President of the United States
- More recently, just 537 votes
- less than half the number of people in this year's graduating class - decided the outcome of the highly contested 2000 Presidential election.
Guys yes your vote counts because EVERY VOTE COUNTS
. I would love to gather together all the people who think their vote doesn't count... we wouldn't be able to fit you in 10 football stadiums. Now THAT'S
a powerful lobby.
Decisions are made by those who show up!
It's as simple as that.
I hope you will be inspired in this election year to register yourself and get out there to vote. Voter registration forms are available all the time at the South Orange Municipal Clerk's office in Village Hall. More importantly, if you live on the Seton Hall campus you ARE
a South Orange resident and you have a right to register and to vote here. Hopefully we will be able to get some forms on campus this year and get a everyone registered who wants to be.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
Rock the Vote!!!