BY SAVANNAH RHEINHART, Editor-in-Chief
The United States was founded in search of relief from religious persecution, excessive taxation, and hopes of democracy. Assuming you were a man. Who was white. And owned land. Like, a lot of land. Luckily for non-white people, women, and renters, things in the colonies have changed the past few hundred years. For the majority of people living today, this is how it’s always been. So, it’s easy to take for granted the rights we do have by living in a democracy.
Election Day is today. It is our birth right as citizens of this country to vote. Men and women have been arrested, beaten, disowned, and died for our right to do so. But, most of us are lazy and complacent. I know for me, I’d rather risk having to push my car instead of stopping for gas and sometimes I don’t care enough about issues that don’t directly affect me. And a lot of you probably feel that way, too.
Think about how long it takes to take a shower. Probably 10-15 minutes. 45 if it’s a Monday. That’s about how long it took me to stand in line, cast my ballot, and be back in my car during the last election. I’ve spent more time in the Taco Bell Drive-Thru at 2am. Plus, you get a snazzy sticker to wear all day and everyone loves some flair.
A lot of younger people don’t think political issues or candidates affect them. I’m sure there are some that don’t. But the majority of them do. If you’re reading this, you’re clearly invested in the University of Michigan to some extent. Today, there are names on the ballot for Regents of the University of Michigan. If you’re anything like me, that doesn’t mean much to you. Well, I did some research and the role of a regent for the university has power over “‘general supervision’ of the institution and ‘control and direction of all expenditures from the institutions funds’”. Basically, these people say where our tuition money goes, as well as any monetary donations. They can also have control over things like tenure, course expectations, and have responsibility over accreditation. This may just be my opinion, but directing my astronomical tuition fees seems like a pretty big job and I’d like to know someone qualified will be handling it.
Also on the ballot today is a spot for US Senate. This isn’t your local government official who is a glorified ribbon cutter with an ego. This is a serious position. Whomever is elected to the Senate for Michigan, Gary Peters or Terri Lynn Land, will be voting on behalf of our state in Congress. They will be responsible for passing or vetoing laws that will affect us for years. Things like the Healthcare Act, legalizing marijuana, and raising national taxes are all voted on by congressmen and women. If any of those issues concern you, positively or negatively, casting your vote could mean all the difference.
This election also has one of the most exciting gubernatorial races our state has ever seen. As of Monday afternoon, the polls had both Gov. Rick Snyder and Representative Mark Schauer tied. It is very rare that an incumbent have to put up this big of a fight for re-election. Again, this winner of this election will affect the lives of all Michiganders.
While voting is extremely important, it is equally as important to do the research beforehand. Voting for your district’s state representative based on his hairline (or lack thereof) probably won’t get you far (although Frank Underwood doesn’t have a full head of hair and we all love him.) There are multiple websites with unbiased and accurate information, like http://ballotpedia.org/. This website not only has interviews with candidates, debates, and where they stand on the issues, but it also has a sample version of the ballot so you can become familiar with the language.
Voting is a right that we are lucky to have. In the grand scheme of things, it takes a small amount of time to make years worth of difference. So, just go vote. Grab a Peppermint Mocha on your way there, fill out your ballot, and maybe take your time getting back to work. Just think—if we didn’t have the right to vote, prohibition could still be in effect and NO ONE wants that.