If you’re not excited about this year’s presidential election, you’re not alone. The choice is between two of the least popular candidates in recent memory, and it can be all-too easy to dismiss them for their respective flaws. But guess what? You still need to vote. Here’s why:
First: Voting isn’t difficult
If you’re a student at the University of Nevada, Reno, there is little stopping you from registering to vote and then putting that vote into action.
Those annoying people standing around campus with clipboards? They’re probably volunteers, there to help you register to vote. Instead of turning up your headphones and avoiding eye contact as you rush past them, take three minutes out of your day to make sure your registration is up to date.
If you don’t want to talk to people, that’s fine too. You can still register online. Tools like Turbovote, which has a partnership with the Associated Students of the University of Nevada, make registering even simpler.
And if you’re still looking for an excuse to register, Tuesday is national voter registration day. Voter registration drives will abound as those volunteers with their clipboards seek to get as many people as possible registered.
But even if you miss out on the fun of national voter registration day, you have until Oct. 18 to register online or in person, or until Oct. 8 to register by mail.
Once you’re registered, next comes the voting. If you can’t make it out to the polls on Nov. 8, getting an absentee ballot or early voting are must. Early voting starts in Nevada on Oct. 22 and runs until Nov. 4. For more info on absentee ballots and how to get them mailed to you, a quick Google search and a visit to the county clerk’s office before Nov. 1 will get you squared away.
Second: There’s more than just the White House up for grabs
We get it. Donald Trump is a racist whose best friend is Vladimir Putin. Hillary Clinton has a private email server that’s cleaner than her voting record and doesn’t have the pizazz to make that OK. The hard part about voting is always making the choice. This year’s choices are perhaps the most polarizing in recent memory, and it’s not uncommon for voters, especially young voters, to feel left out by this year’s election.
But just because neither Trump nor Clinton tickles your democracy bone (and you’re too smart to vote third party) there is no excuse to sit out the election. The ballot is not just the presidency. There are at least a dozen state and local races up for grabs, as well as multiple initiatives. The legality of marijuana, NV Energy’s monopoly and the future of Washoe County schools are all hanging in the balance.
Regardless of how the presidential election goes, you have the opportunity, nay, the power to influence the future of Nevadans for years to come. “But I don’t plan on staying in Nevada,” you say. “I won’t be here to reap the fruits of my democratic labor,” you say. To that, we retort: you’re not the only person that matters.
Census data reports that nearly 3 million people lived in Nevada as of July 2015. That’s nearly 3 million people who will be affected not only by the election of a new president, but by the myriad of state and local ballot questions.
Let’s be realistic: whether you’re a Nevada native or not, you’re here to take advantage of a Tier One education at rock-bottom prices. The least you can do is give back just a little bit by participating in the democratic process.
In his official proclamation for National Voter Registration Day, President Barack Obama put it succinctly.
“Democracy is not a spectator sport,” Obama said. “If we are serious about improving our country and ensuring our government reflects our values, we cannot afford to sit out on Election Day.”
Millennials are the largest voting bloc of them all; Pew Research reports that they number around 75.4 million as of 2015. But consistently, young people are disenfranchised by their own apathy. In 2014, Nevada saw its lowest voter turnout since World War II when only 20 percent of youth voters came to the polls.
Make this year an outlier.
The editorial board can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.