State Chair Feature | Why we as college students need to vote today

written by | State Chair Kayla Shelley

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College students are not a historically reliable voting block. Some people would make that out to be because we are lazy or uneducated, but the truth of the matter is it's hard to remember to go the polls when your day-to-day life is riddled with struggles that feel a lot more immediate.

Researchers at Temple University and the Wisconsin HOPE Lab surveyed 66 colleges and universities, and found 35 percent of students do not get enough to eat, and a similar amount don’t have access to secure housing. It’s hard to believe that your vote matters sometimes, it really is, when you see that we are often underpaid at our jobs, have a lack access to resources, and are accumulating debt for a degree that may not even guarantee us a job. It is easy to feel that the system is too broken to fix with a ballot, but these are things that legislatures should care about, but many have decided they don’t need to, they have decided that we are going to stay home on election day so how they impact our lives is allowed to remain irrelevant to them.

Every year, Students United advocates at the state and federal level. It always astounds me how powerful those experiences are. We come in and tell our stories, and talk about why we are there, why we care, and we leaving having made an impact. I can’t help but wonder though, how much more impact we would have if we all vote in every primary, every midterm, every general election. The Minnesota Office of Higher education says that each fall there are over 425,000 students enrolled at a college or university in this state, if even half of us voted, we would be a deciding factor in the outcome of races across the state. That gives us so much more power to hold them accountable, to walk in to legislators' offices with a group of 50 students and not just advocate on our behalf, but let them know if they don’t speak to our issues they won’t continue to win elections. At my university of St. Cloud State, some house races in our district have been decided by just a few hundred votes, if just a few hundred more students at my university decided that their vote mattered, we could have decided an election.

Since I won state chair, people keep asking me if I think college students will show up to vote. My answer is yes, because we are realizing just how much skin we have in this game. The undecided voter is not the person confused about party, the undecided voter is the person choosing whether or not their voice matters enough to show up to the polls. We can quite literally no longer afford not to show up.

Vote with me this August 14th, prove them wrong, and lets hold them accountable together.