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Make it count

Emily Schrank | Monday, September 20, 2010

Although the Nov. 2 midterm elections seem like they are months away, in reality, they are just a short six weeks from now. Are you ready to vote?

If not, it’s time to get your ducks in a row.

As a political science major and a journalism, ethics and democracy minor, political activism and awareness are two things that are very near and dear to my heart. As a native of South Carolina, a state that is often the butt of many political jokes (Alvin Greene, anyone?), I’m even more concerned about the general political apathy that seems to plague our nation.

On a side note, if you don’t know who Alvin Greene is (and you’re looking for a good laugh), I recommend that you “google” him.

I was a bit stunned when, just last week, my Fundamentals of Journalism professor asked our class if we knew what the major races in each of our home states, and more importantly who the candidates involved in them, were. Needless to say, the overwhelming response was, “I don’t know.”

The ability to vote is a key tenet of our democratic government, and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Citizens should participate in elections and make educated and informed decisions about the people they are choosing as their representatives.

If you aren’t registered to vote in your permanent state of residence, I highly encourage you to do so. The process is virtually painless and it literally takes five minutes (and will probably provide a welcome distraction from that paper you’re writing or the test you’re cramming for!)

Most of the voter registration form can be completed online on the following website: http://www.longdistancevoter.org/register_to_vote. It’s so incredibly simple and straightforward that I think even the average Michigan State student might be able to figure it out.

Many states require that your voter registration form be postmarked at least 30 days prior to the election, so the good news is you still have at least two weeks to take care of it. For more information regarding the specific procedures in your state, I’d like to suggest you visit this website: http://www.longdistancvoter.org/voter_registration_deadlines. You can also find information about the absentee voting process on this site.

With the ability to vote, though, also comes a great deal of responsibility.

Participating in an election is meaningless if you don’t know anything about the candidate you vote for and don’t make an educated decision.

Just because his or her name sounds cool or it may come first alphabetically, that probably isn’t the best reason to vote for someone.

You can easily find out more about a candidate and the issues they stand for by simply typing a few words and clicking a few buttons on the computer. Most candidates have their own websites and many news organizations will cover the elections more heavily as November 2 draws closer. There really is no excuse for not being informed.

So for those of you actually reading this, I really hope you do take my advice and decide to vote in a few weeks. It might just be the best decision you’ve made in awhile.

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Emily Schrank at [email protected]