Today, I cast my vote in the University elections being held throughout today and tomorrow. I made my selections for Student Government, Texas Student Media (including the editor of the Texan) and other posts as a part of my civic responsibility as a student here at UT. The entire process was conducted online, at "Utexasvote.org," and took a grand total of 30 seconds. It would quite literally be impossible to vote with any more ease.
Sadly, barring unusually high turnout, for every one student who chooses to vote, four will choose to not vote. Turnout in student elections here on the 40 acres hovers around 15 percent, give or take a few points. Given Texas' reputation as the single worst place in the country for civic participation, I suppose one could infer that the apathy starts from quite a young age.
Braydon Jones, one of the SG Presidential candidates, appeared strangely complacent with this lackluster participation rate at the Executive Alliance candidate debate last Monday. In comments quoted by the Texan, Jones noted that "Fifteen percent of students turned out to vote in last year’s election, as similarly, 17 percent of people voted in national elections and midterms last year," adding "We’re spot-on."
No. We're not spot-on.
According to estimations by the United States Election Project, more than 36 percent of voting-eligible individuals voted in last year's elections, with even higher participation among the registered population. All UT students are ostensibly registered to vote for campus elections, by comparison. Additionally, if voting were as easy in a city, state or federal election as it is at this University, then the rate would be exponentially higher.
Big things happen on campus every single day, and students are lucky enough to give input into that process. The tradition of actually giving a care about that process is one that should be learned young. Only then will we truly be "spot-on."