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10 Reasons Why College Students Should Vote

The primary season is underway with the general election coming in only a matter of months. The national and local leaders chosen will have significant influence on many important issues, including initiatives of great concern to college students. Learn why it's as important as ever that you turn out at the polls.

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By Douglas Fehlen

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1. It's your right.

Just as you've been told since elementary school, voting is an important right we have a duty to exercise. Many governments around the world allow citizens no part in electing officials. You do have the opportunity to help select government leaders, and the health of our democracy relies on your participation.

2. Your vote matters.

Many students don't believe their vote will make any difference, but recent history has shown that elections can be decided by a handful of votes. In fact, many local contests end in ties each election year with winners being determined by a coin flip. Taking the initiative to vote can help prevent elections from being left to chance.

3. Shape the social agenda.

Are you passionate about a particular social issue? Gay marriage, capital punishment and the separation of church and state are only a few of many contentious topics that dominate the political discourse. Learn about candidates' views on issues that are important to you, and vote in support of your beliefs.

4. Economic policies will affect your future.

Most expect social security benefits to be gone or greatly diminished by the time college-aged individuals reach retirement age - which will be higher than it is now. Politicians continually make decisions about higher ed costs and student loan policies. These and other issues prove you have an important economic interest in every election.

5. Help shape foreign policy.

National leaders in Washington, D.C., are continually making foreign policy decisions, including when to intervene militarily in world affairs. It isn't the president or Congressional members who deploy to other countries to risk their lives - it's young people. Use your vote to support foreign policies you believe in.

6. Have your say on environmental issues.

The environment stands to be among the biggest political topics of this generation. Many climate experts warn of serious, potentially irreversible weather changes that may drastically alter life on our planet. Whether you agree with this assessment or have other views, your vote is a way to express your convictions.

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7. You're part of an important voting bloc.

The college vote can swing elections. There are more than 75 million Millennials, a number that rivals the number of baby boomers - another important voting bloc. The problem is that college students typically vote in much smaller numbers than older citizens. Mobilized, Millennials represent a powerful political force.

8. Politicians won't address student needs without student votes.

Politicians know who votes each election, and they are more likely to support initiatives that are popular among groups with the highest voter turnout. For college students to have significant political influence, they must turn out in greater numbers than is traditionally seen. You have a part to play in that.

9. Demonstrate concern for the next generation.

By voting you are not only doing your part to influence the present, you are also affecting the future. Demonstrating this point well is the fact that the president selects U.S. Supreme Court Justices for lifetime appointments. These judicial officials may exert powerful influence for decades to come.

10. Honor past sacrifices.

Voting is a way to honor those who have helped to secure our rights. Military members who have fought for this country, suffrage activists and Civil Rights leaders are only a few examples of those to whom we owe our respect and appreciation. Voting gives you the opportunity to help pay that debt.

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