Registering to vote is a privilege; failing to do so has consequences


Chris Vega

At least once a year, there comes a time where we, as Americans, can make our voices heard by voting in our local elections.

On Oct. 12, the Louisiana Gubernatorial Election will be held in which we will have the chance to decide our next governor, lieutenant governor and a multitude of other state and local offices. Although state elections do not seem as important as national elections, it is still paramount to participate in them and to register to vote.

The worrying attitude that I see among people my age is the reluctance and disinterest in our political process. I find most people my age are completely uninformed when it comes to the issues of today, when elections are and who is running. Even if they are aware of the election date, they do not view it as important enough to actually go out and vote. Some of them never even bother registering to vote either because they do not want to or they are not aware how to.

Every American citizen over the age of 18 is eligible to register 20 days before an election but according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau estimate, 21.4% of Americans are not registered to vote.

Given our current political climate, it is very tempting to ignore our elections and to avoid everything that has to do with the government.

I completely understand the temptation to become disillusioned with the elections. Our political discourse is extremely toxic, but it is important to remember it has no relevance towards your vote. Since national politics dominate the news cycle, it is easy to assume it also dominates our local elections. This simply is not the case. Our elections themselves, especially at the state and local level, do not have to be tainted by that sort of toxic discourse if you do not want them to be. People vote for a variety of different reasons, and simply showing up on election day does not mean that you engage with the circus that is our national politics.

There are some skeptics and naysayers who say that your vote does not matter. Do not listen to them. Your vote is your voice. Our system and our leaders are by no means perfect, but sitting on the sidelines and refusing to register is not going to change anything.

Voting is our primary form of government participation. Even if you do not realize it, elections have consequences on your everyday life. Our elected officials make decisions on a daily basis that effect us. This is especially true at the local level where choices about regional schooling and infrastructure are made. In Louisiana, proposed amendments to our state constitution are put to a public vote before they are ratified. If you do not vote for your leaders, then you have no say in these decisions.

We often times forget how much of a privilege it is to live in a republic where we get to have a say in our government. It is a privilege that our ancestors throughout the years fought and died for the Americans to have the right to vote.

This October, you have the chance to make your voice heard and change this state for the better. No matter who you decide to vote for, you will be making an impact on this state by simply casting your ballot. Every election matters, even if it does not seem very exciting.

Getting to have a say in who our leaders are is invaluable. If you have not yet registered to vote, then your voice will be ignored.