The 2016 presidential election will conclude Nov. 8, leaving just a few days left to cast a ballot. Although this is the first election that many Colorado State University students are eligible to vote in, some are choosing to abstain from participating all together.
“Voting is both a privilege and a responsibility,” said Courtenay Daum, an assistant professor of political science at Colorado State University who holds a doctorate in political science.
According to Megan Ruxton, a political science teaching assistant at CSU, voting is an important factor in democracy.
“We often hear the term ‘civic duty’ used in regards to voting, and it truly is a duty, an action that we owe to our fellow citizens to understand that each of us has a stake in the outcome of these elections, and it is our responsibility to make democracy work,” Ruxton said.
Voting functions as a way to shape the government and create a society with input from the citizens, according to Daum.
“The vote is the way that we participate in and shape our government, the policies that are created and the distribution of benefits and resources,” Daum said.
According to Daum, voting is especially important for the younger generation of voters.
“I think this is really significant, when certain groups turn out in low numbers this enables elected representatives to prioritize the issues and policy items preferred by those individuals who do vote,” Daum said. “Not voting because you are frustrated with government and/or the available choices makes it easier for candidates and elected officials to ignore your values and priorities moving forward.”
Daum uses the example of former Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders to further her point.
“The fact that Bernie Sanders performed so well in the primaries forced Secretary Clinton to address some of the policy priorities favored by Sanders’ supporters including the minimum wage, college debt and others,” Daum said.
According to Daum, young voters need to show up to the polls.
“It is imperative that young voters not give up because they are the future of this country, and they need to be putting their concerns front and center time and time again in order to get the attention of local, state and national candidates,” Daum said.
Young voters are also the most likely to be impacted by this election, according to Ruxton.
“There are so many issues that are on the table that are important to all voters but even more so for young voters because of how the policy decisions made in the next few years are going to shape the lives and futures of those under the age of 30,” Ruxton said.
It is also important to note that despite what the presidential candidates are not the only thing that is on the ballot.
“Our daily lives are impacted by federal politics, but state and local government are absolutely integral to them,” Ruxton said.
Regardless of one’s personal opinions on the election, it is impossible to ignore its impact on the government and the current state of democracy in our society.
“I think the positive side of it has been the recognition of issues that we, as a nation, need to have some serious conversations about, but I think it has also shown the many rifts we see in the two major parties and society in general,” Ruxton said.
According to Dr. Eric Fattor, a political science instructor at CSU who holds a doctorate in political science, it is very important to note that voting is not the only, or even the most significant, way to express political participation.
“The challenge, then, is not merely to get people to to vote, but to get them to understand that this is not the only way for them to participate,” Fattor said.
Nonetheless, Fattor said voting is still a necessity.
“You never give power, no matter how small and insignificant, back to the apparatus of rule,” Fattor said.