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Speaker highlights importance of student voter participation

| Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Justice Friday lecture Oct. 16 at Saint Mary’s featured sophomore Morgan Matthews, who spoke on the importance of voting as a college student.

“With the presidential elections coming up this year and all the debates going on, I decided to talk about voting because I’m really passionate about it,” Matthews “I was figuring out the whole [voting] process and I just thought I might as well teach others while I’m teaching myself.”

College students should vote to use their right to speak out against any injustices that might be going on in the country, Matthews said. There can be resistance to voting because in some states, voters have to declare their party affiliation, which some people might find invasive.

“It’s no reason for you to give up your power. Asking for a certain party’s ballot doesn’t mean you have to stick with that party forever — you can change,” she said. “You deserve a choice next November and in the primaries, no matter what side or party you are.”

Another reason students might not vote is that they feel like their votes will not make a difference, Matthews said. 

“Every vote does matter … If you look back to Florida in 2000 with Al Gore and George Bush, Florida gave Bush the presidency. This shows how important it is to vote.”

Matthews said students votes can shape future economic and foreign policies, the social agenda and environmental issues. Voting demonstrates concern for the next generation and honors the past sacrifices of civil rights leaders and soldiers. 

“[College students] are part of an important voting block. Statistics say there are more than 75 million millennials. The problem is college students vote in a smaller portion,” she said. “We should have more of a say because now [the population] is skewed towards us.”

Politicians will be encouraged to address student needs when students vote, Matthews said.

“Politicians know who votes each election and they are more likely to support issues the highest voter turnout is passionate about,” she said. 

There are two basic ways to register to vote, Matthews said. Students can go online to print out and complete a national mail registration form and then send it into the local county office, or they can register to vote at most local government-run facilities. 

Matthews said it is also important to know how to fill out a specific county’s absentee ballot for voting, which can be found online.

“Say even if you’re living in Indiana, if you’re not from this county, you can’t vote here unless you fill out an absentee ballot or you’re going home to your county to vote,” she said. 

The primaries are the first part of the election process, and voters should explore online sites like fairvote.org to find out if their states’ primaries are open, closed or semi-closed, Matthews said.

“The date of voting for the primary is different for each state. It is important to look up your specific deadline to vote,” she said. 

Students should get informed about the candidates and issues before voting, Matthews said. 

“Choose a candidate to vote for based on their beliefs and viewpoints versus the party they associate with,” she said. “Remain open minded … do your research, don’t take the candidate’s words on a large scale issue if you don’t know the basis of the information. They could be spinning lies. Know all the issues that you are passionate about rather than taking the candidate’s words for it.“

Matthews said she encouraged all students to watch or look up both the Republican and Democrat debates coming up to gain a better understanding of what each candidate believes and represents.

Justice Friday installments take place every Friday from 12 p.m. to 12:50 p.m. in Conference Room A and B of the Student Center.

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