As part of the American Political Science Association’s (APSA) Election Assistance Task Force, political scientists all over the country are writing publicly about the core elements of smooth elections and healthy democracy. This is important because people need clear information about how they can vote freely and fairly. It can also be confusing especially because each state has slightly different voting procedures and deadlines.
The UKindness initiative through UConn’s Student Affairs has put together a very helpful resource that contains information UConn students need for information on voting. Importantly, students should know that there are two important steps to take if they want to vote in the upcoming November election and deadlines are coming fast. First, make sure you are registered to vote and that your registration is current. Second, make a plan to vote either in person or by using an absentee ballot.
A common question we hear young people ask is: why should I bother with politics? After all, it often seems like politicians ignore young people. But this is precisely the reason young people should participate. The more young people that do participate the more likely politicians will listen. Studies show that politicians tend to be most responsive to groups that are active and hold clear preferences, even if they are small in number. Young people also have vastly different preferences on a whole host of policy issues, from climate change to equality and inclusivity in American society. Yet young people in the United States vote at some of the lowest rates, especially when compared to other nations.
Democracy rests upon the idea that all people affected by policy decisions should have a say in the political process. Voting is the way to translate preferences on issues into representation in government and in turn pressure elected officials to take action.
Of course,voting is not the only part of a healthy democracy. While voting may be the most prominent act in a democracy, citizens’ participation in many areas keeps democracy healthy. But no matter what else you do; voting will always be an important way for each of us to contribute to democracy’s continued centrality in American life.
Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science
Director of the EcoHouse Learning Community at UConn.
Associate Professor of Political Science
Director of Middle East Studies at UConn