Editor’s note: Register to vote before time runs out

By Jenette Sturges

For many University freshmen, this November will mark a momentous occasion in your lives as American citizens.

It will be the first year you don’t vote.

You’re in good company. As reported in The Daily Illini last week, according to The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, only 47 percent of voters aged 18 to 24 voted in the general election, marking the lowest voter turnout of all demographic groups.

It’s not a surprise by any means. Student leaders on campus attribute the low voter turnout to a number of sources. Justin Randall, the president of the University’s chapter of College Republicans, blamed corrupt state politics. Justin Cajindos, College Democrats president, called low voter turnout among college students a “vicious cycle.” College students don’t vote because politicians don’t listen. Politicians don’t listen because we don’t vote.

Partisan politics aside, both excuses are pretty lame. When it all boils down, we don’t vote because we don’t care. Or because we’re lazy.

… Or because we forgot to get our registration changed to reflect our new campus addresses.

Here’s your reminder. Today, October 10th, is the last day you can register to vote in Champaign. Student groups are out en masse to track you down and register you. Voter registration booths are set up around campus, namely at the Illini Union, all day. It only takes a few minutes to fill out a couple simple papers and get your card sent in the mail.

Our track record as voters is pitiful, to say the least. But rather than lecture the student body on our duties as citizens, or extoll the virtues of a democratic system where we have, in theory, the ability to choose our leaders, I offer you something else. I offer you a reason why you need to go to the polls in November, and thus, why you need to go to the registration booth today:

Lincoln Hall. It stands, barely, as a symbol to the sad state of Illinois and how our near-bankrupt state affects this University. The crumbling of Lincoln Hall can largely be attributed to the mismanagement of funds on a state level that have caused problems for the University, including the deferred maintenance crisis.

State politics also have a direct effect on your tuition bills. Grants that were supposed to go to students no longer exist. Headlines announced that more money was going to higher education while budgets read the reverse story, and it now costs more money than ever to come to this University and earn a degree.

Nobody’s arguing that Topinka will do any better; her plan to fund the flailing state rests largely on a scheme to build a casino. But we as students need to recognize that the financial disaster in Illinois under Blagojevich has a direct effect on this campus.

In short, we need to realize that politics matter.

So make today truly a momentous occasion. Read the paper, do the Sudoku. Then when class gets out, do something that matters: head to the Union and register to vote.