The Collegian
Sunday, July 12, 2020

UR Students Need to Vote in November

"I don't know anything about the candidates."

"I don't really do political stuff."

"I have to ask my mom."

"I'm superrrrr busy. Sorry!"

These are the various excuses of students scurrying, embarrassed, past the voter registration table in the Commons. It's well known that voter participation in the U.S. is dismally low, only 39.8 percent of registered voters in Virginia turned out for the last Gubernatorial election in 2009, according to Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics.

But who would think university students -- a population stereotyped as constantly demonstrating, protesting and otherwise stirring up trouble -- would have so little interest? Students running from our offers of registration forms and pledge-to-vote cards cite various reasons for their non-participation. There are simple solutions, though!

Here is a list of cures for the anti-voting woes students have expressed:

"I don't know anything about the candidates"

This is very simple. Google lives in most of your pockets. Use it. All candidates have websites where their opinions on issues are clearly presented.

If the amount of time an average Richmond student spends on Buzzfeed were instead spent on learning about the candidates, we would have a school full of political experts.

"I don't really do political stuff."

We aren't asking you to run for office! It's casting a vote! Politics 'do' you even if you don't 'do' them, so you might want to make sure you have some protection in your pocket.

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"I'm not from Virginia"

No problem! Symm v. United States, Supreme Court, 1979. Students have the right to vote in the state in which they study! You spend the majority of the year in Virginia, Virginia laws affect you, the governor impacts you. One simple form and voila! Your voter registration is changed to Virginia! Change it back to your home state whenever you want. Voter registration forms are available at the Spiders for Terry table in the Commons, and in the Center for Civic Engagement.

"My vote won't really matter."

Virginia is a classic swing state! This election for governor could come down to narrow margins -- your vote could be the tipping point! Our generation is supposedly horribly narcissistic; just think of your vote as the most important and special one.

"I have to ask my mom."

This one doesn't merit a response.

"I'm too busy."

The people who fought for voting rights for people of color and women were busy, too. When was the last time you were force-fed or beat while defending justice?

"I feel really strongly about the state in which I'm registered to vote"

That's legitimate IF you are actually going to vote in your home state this fall. If not -- switch to Virginia for this election.

"I'm a senior and I'm leaving in a few months anyway"

And all the people you're leaving behind? Do you want them under the reign of a crazy person?? (And by "crazy" I mean Cuccinelli-style, ban-oral-sex-and-birth-control crazy).

Let's be frank, for many who fake a phone call as they walk past, it's not lack of knowledge, time or parents. The real issue here is motivation, intrinsic interest, belief in the value of participatory democracy. Basically, we have to care. And it seems many students at the University of Richmond do not.

Students of Richmond, hear my plea! You have access to more information than most people will ever have in their lifetime. You have people literally throwing registration forms at you! This is so easy. And it matters SO MUCH. They won't even make you recite the preamble to the Constitution backwards. Well, not for now.

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