Midterm elections are fast approaching. According to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau, far fewer young people will head to the polls next month compared to older citizens. Maybe students forget to exercise one of their most important rights because of being swamped with daily life, but according to experts, your vote does matter and it’s important to cast your ballot.
Dr. Carlos Huerta, a Professor of Political Science at TAMU-CC, said that not everyone had the right to vote in the beginning of our democracy.
“We look at the Declaration of Independence,” said Huerta, “we look at the Constitution and we think, ‘Oh, wow. What a wonderful democracy.’ But really, voting was very limited early in our nation’s history: white men with property. Wasn’t until I think the 1830s or 1820s when most white men had the right to vote. Of course, African-Americans couldn’t vote. Native Americans didn’t have political rights.”
Women didn’t have the right to vote until 1920. African-Americans were prevented from voting in many ways until the Voting Rights Act was passed.
“I tell my students that it wasn’t until 1965,” said Huerta, “when we actually had all adults could vote in the United States, when the Voting Rights Act was passed. So, with the right to vote, you talk about such a cherished right, it hasn’t been that long that most Americans have had the right to vote in our country.”
Even though many of us know that voting is important, many others often believe that their vote doesn’t matter.
“People talk to me,” said Huerta, “and they say, ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter.’ To me, it’s very important for all of us, as students, to know that elections have consequences. … If you can imagine an alternative universe where there were different politicians in place, would we be having these votes like we are having right now? Would they be the same nominees? Would we be having the same political dynamics? We wouldn’t.
“So, elections have consequences. People need to remember that. Some people tell me, ‘Oh, there’s no differences between the parties and the candidates.’ My response when people tell me that is of course there’s differences. You may want different kinds of differences, you may want bigger differences, but to sit there and say, ‘Oh, they’re the same,’ well that’s just
not true.”It is true that your one individual vote may not be the turning point of an important decision, but if we all take that mentality, then no one would vote.
“We have to think collectively,” said Huerta. “It’s not just about, ‘Oh, well, little old me.’ What’s in it for my brothers and sisters in our society? What can we do to help out our nation? We have to participate.
“I tell folks elected officials respond to who votes for them. And so, if young adults vote in higher numbers, they will get attention of our elected officials.”
The concern of students voting and being able to vote is on the forefront of people’s minds like Cari Casas, volunteer with the League of Woman Voters and a Sophomore Political Science major at TAMU-CC.
“It originally was proposed for two weeks of early voting (on campus),” said Casas, “but one of our city councilmen believes that voting does not matter for students or students do not care to vote. And so, thought it was a waste of money and so that’s why our term was cut short.”
Casas recognizes the importance of voting, especially on a local level.
“Voting is really important because that’s the way you express who you are,” said Casas, “especially when it comes to this election because you’re voting for the people that have the most power. So, your lieutenant governor, your governor, your mayor, your city council, the commissioners. The commissioner that thought that students don’t care about voting, his seat is up. The people who are sitting as regents if you go to Del Mar College.
“It’s all very important, and these are people that are making decisions for us on everything, on like what our tuition is like, our healthcare, what grants are being accepted, how our streets are being turned out.”
Being able to vote here on campus is easier than ever. There will be polling sites opened for a short period during early elections and on election day.
“You can vote here on campus Oct. 29 to Nov. 2.,” said Casas. “… All you need is your driver’s license or identification card to vote. You cannot use your student ID, even though it’s issued by the state.”
Up until elections, we will be reporting on different candidates and electoral events occurring in Corpus Christi. Keep an eye out for articles that will be posted on, http://www.islandwavesnew.com. For more helpful resources, make sure to check out the League of Women Voters of Texas at, https://my.lwv.org/texas/voters-guide.