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A voting center on Chavez Road reads "Your Vote Center" on the side of the building.

OPINION: Yeah, maybe you should vote

As the midterm elections quickly approach, arguments over the importance of voting are once again prevalent. The right to vote is one of the pillars our society stands on as a democracy. Everyone should utilize that right.

In the 2020 presidential election, a record high of 66% of college students voted — jumping from 52% in 2016 — and that statistic needs to keep climbing, according to The Hill. As college students and recent graduates, we are the next leaders of our country and have a responsibility to make an impact.

Recent years have seen more people recognizing the importance of voting and having our voices represented. This needs to keep happening. Don’t let not voting become the reason someone says you can’t defend and argue for what you believe in. We have the opportunity to vote for who and what our ideologies match up with. That's the brilliance of it all — the choice.

Even when voters heavily, and I mean heavily, disagree with one another, there’s always the choice to enact change through voting how our politicians make decisions in our country.

Voting is not always easy. Simple things like finding the time to go to the polls to more complicated concerns, like voter identification laws, can make the process difficult.

One hindrance to college students can be mail-in voting. As of 2021, 21.4% of new students at the University of New Mexico were from out of state, according to the UNM Newsroom. I’m from Texas, and while I did procrastinate on ordering my voting slip, it also wasn’t fully accessible from the standpoint of a college student.

In order to get a mail-in voting slip from Texas, a person needs to print out the request, fill it out and mail it back to their county clerk. Simple, until you consider finding a working printer that you don’t have to spend money to use (shout out to the Women’s Resource Center for that), and also go through a weird process of finding a stamp, which is not a normal thing for a college student to own. This doesn’t even account for the time commitment required — almost two hours when all was said and done.

The mail-in voting example is just to show how there are hindrances to voting that can make it difficult, but if these are hurdles you can work around and find a way to vote, do so. College students can’t stand up and make a change if we don’t use one of the biggest weapons in our arsenal.

Voting isn’t just about electing officials and helping to pass laws. It’s about deciding who runs our state and country. We have the power to determine who makes decisions for us all, which those in high positions recognize. They need us to get where they are, so use your vote to make the changes you want to see. Get your voice out there and help make the United States you want.

Elizabeth Secor is a beat reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at culture@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @esecor2003

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