Whether you prefer Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump or neither, your vote is important. Here are five things every Richmond student should consider before heading to the voting booth:

1) You’re not just voting for the President.

Elections down the ballot are incredibly important. Your votes for the Senate, House of Representatives, state legislature and local legislature are essential to the way our country and local jurisdictions operate. In November, you will not only be voting for the next president, but also for the people who will craft and implement national, state and local laws and budgets. Political analysts are predicting down the ballot votes for democrats, which will switch the majority party in Congress. If you want to know more about the potential ramifications of all your votes in November, you can read more here.

2) Being uninformed on the issues and policies is not cool.

If you’re going to wear that “Make America Great Again” hat, you need to understand the policies Donald Trump is supporting. And if you’re going to shout “Hill Yes I’m With Her” from the rooftops, you need to back that up with the issues you care about that Hillary Clinton also advocates. It is easy to focus on Trump’s sexist comments and general bigotry, or Hillary’s lies and emails, but do you know their stances on our current fiscal situation, women’s issues, social justice issues or foreign affairs? Being educated on the policies will make your vote all the more meaningful and important. If we elect a president for their policy promises, we can then hold that person accountable to those plans and promises in January. Learn more about the platforms of each candidate here and here.

3) Our votes matter regardless of political party. 

Even if you are a republican in a blue state or a democrat in a red state, your vote matters. While it is true that your one vote will not change the outcome of the general election, if you don’t vote, you give reason to your state representatives to believe their state is less politically diverse than it actually is. By casting your ballot against the majority, you are raising your hand and waving it in the face of your elected officials because that is one more vote they didn’t get. A strong minority is necessary to provide balance and moderation even in the most polarized state. Learn more about why your vote matters here.

4) Our votes matter because we are young. 

The millennial vote is an essential constituency in every election, and campaigns know this (your grandpa sure isn’t the one scrolling through Hillary’s hip Instagram or Trump’s outrageous tweets). There are an estimated 69.2 million millennial voters (adults ages 18-35 in 2016), a number that makes a huge difference in an election. Most importantly, within the next four to eight years, many of us will be on our way to getting a job, getting married, starting a family, owning a house, and paying taxes. The policies we vote for this year will shape the next chapter of our lives, so we need to go out and vote our way to a good start to adulthood.

5) You need to register to vote before your state's deadline. 

Educate yourself and do some more research, but first, register to vote before it is too late because the future of our nation depends on it.  

 Contact news writer Claire Comey at claire.comey@richmond.edu

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