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Observer Editorial: Become a voter

| Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Voting matters, and your vote counts. On Midterms Day 2018, The Observer Editorial Board urges you, reader, to be a voter.

This year’s Midterm elections arrive on the heels of some of the most polarized years in American politics, and the national divisiveness over politics has echoed throughout our smaller tri-campus community. Two weeks ago, Notre Dame released the results of its Inclusive Campus Survey, which attempted to evaluate students’ experiences in college as they relate to diversity and inclusion.

Thirty-two percent of respondents stated they were “very uncomfortable” or “somewhat uncomfortable” with revealing their political views. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said they had heard disparaging remarks made about persons of “particular political views.” And 35 percent of respondents said that they thought the campus climate had become less inclusive of different political views during their time at the University.

This portion of the survey exposed that many students, regardless of their political views, “were often mocked or not welcomed on campus,” and some felt that “the culture on campus is more supportive of the views opposite their own.” These numbers demonstrate a campus-wide problem: People often feel uncomfortable sharing their political views at Notre Dame. This is a problem of culture and lack of civil political dialogue.

Voting will not singlehandedly fix these issues, but becoming a voter is the first and most crucial step toward bridging the political gap. In our tri-campus community, we have multiple clubs, organizations and departments that strive to combat issues of polarization, including but not limited to ND Votes, BridgeND and the Saint Mary’s Office of Civic and Social Engagement. They foster meaningful discussion amongst peers with the hopes of creating a civil environment where all students can flourish and learn from one another. Voting — the most fundamental exercise of a functioning democracy — forms the bedrock of the efforts.

These groups are doing important and necessary work, but each person has a part to play. Today, it is our job to do our part to enact change. Statistics show that people aged 18 to 29 are the age group least likely to vote. According to a Gallup study, only 26 percent of people between the ages of 18-29 regularly vote, which pales in comparison to other age groups, which range from 55 to 82 percent.

As an Editorial Board, we urge you to prove these statistics wrong. One common refrain from young voters is that their vote will not matter. But a vote means a lot — and in some hotly-contested races, like many around the nation this year, a single vote can decide an election. As students of the Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross communities, we have the opportunity to commit to voting and therefore commit to participation in our collective civic society. And by engaging in order to cast an informed vote, we will take a step toward promoting civil discourse about politics in our community.

We are among our nation’s young voters. But, as studies show, young voters are not doing their part. Buck the trend. In contributing your voice, you will take the first step into building a stronger country for your future. Become a voter. Vote.

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