From B-list celebrities to professional athletes, it seems everyone with a soapbox encourages the American populous to register to vote. And yet, while we so commonly hear testimony on why we should vote, there is less conversation about voters’ duties to complete the ballot. The entire ballot. Not just for the president or other higher government officials. Voting means you answer every question, not just the one at the top.
The time for registering to vote has passed for this election, but registering is only the first step. With six days remaining until the 2016 election, students have an obligation to look beyond the widely reported and publicized presidential race, even beyond national Congressional races, and vote all the way down the ballot.
The Electoral College, much like Occidental College, is a controversial institution. Voters often feel their voices are lost in choosing electors not candidates. It is imperative we remember that propositions and local elections do not have an Electoral College system; they represent a purer form of direct democracy. If we “Rock the Vote” like celebrities in 2008 called for, we can truly make changes.
Another common refrain for not voting in California — especially from liberals — is that votes “won’t matter anyway” as the state will always go blue. This mindset simply does not hold the further down the ballot one goes. Issues on California’s ballot this year supercede a two-party mindset. Do you have an opinion on the use of condoms in porn videos? Do you ever wonder where the 10 cents Trader Joe’s collects from you every time you forget your bags (and the whole store stares at you) goes? Tell it to the ballot.
Whether you are voting in California or voting absentee, state and local elections and propositions matter just as much as (some would argue more than) the president and senators. Five states this cycle, including California, are voting to legalize recreational marijuana usage. Measures concerning health care provisions and gun control populate ballots in multiple states, including California, Colorado and Washington.
At this point, many of us know about Kamala Harris and Prop. 64, but how many know about the judges for Los Angeles Superior County Court or the two conflicting propositions on the California ballot concerning the death penalty? It is imperative that students take the time to educate themselves on the candidates and propositions before intelligently voting all the way down the ballot on every issue.
By not voting, you are inadvertently affecting the outcome of an election or law change, especially the less popular ones. As college students, we are already predisposed to doing some quick research online. Voting every question on the ballot is an instance in which spending a half hour researching the propositions and candidates can make a world of difference. Have a thought about getting charge for those plastic bags? How about government water control? Simply tired of hearing about Trump and Clinton after months of being decided? Then educate yourself on the issues and vote all the way down the ballot.
This editorial represents the collective opinion of The Occidental Weekly editorial board. Each week, the editorial board will publish its viewpoint on a matter relevant to the Occidental Community.