Verbum Ultimum: Head to the Polls

by THE DARTMOUTH EDITORIAL BOARD | 10/30/14 7:28pm

It’s a tale as old as time: young people don’t vote. For a variety of reasons, voters from age 18 to 29 have had a low turnout since the 26th Amendment’s ratification in the early 1970s. Though the share of the youth vote increased for the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, we must remain vigilant: a recent Harvard Institute of Politics poll found that roughly 75 percent of young people do not plan to vote in the upcoming midterm elections on Nov. 4. We must fight that apathy, and more importantly, do so with knowledge and vision.

We encourage everyone to go to the polls this coming Tuesday. However, voting in of itself is not enough — we have a civic duty to be informed and to vote wisely, even when the presidency is not on the line. The midterm elections are easy to ignore, to write off as irrelevant to our lives. But such a stance is nothing short of uninspired and irresponsible.

Political activists with the Dartmouth College Democrats and Republicans have expressed optimism regarding the political climate at Dartmouth. Both groups have brought politicians and activists to campus, and they have directed their efforts at nonpartisan calls to boost student voter turnout — and according to student leaders, attendance has been high. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., was on campus Oct. 23, and Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., was just part of an event in One Wheelock this past Wednesday. Republican candidate Marilinda Garcia, who is running for the state’s second congressional district, visited campus on Oct. 15. Though some corners of campus are undoubtedly still apathetic, many signs point toward a better student turnout for these midterms than we saw in 2010. However, though these “get-out-the-vote” efforts are crucial, students cannot simply show up to the polls on Tuesday and make what amounts to an educated guess. We need to know what races are on the ballot, who we are voting for and where they stand on the issues.

Important political races are occurring in New Hampshire this cycle. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., supports reducing college loan interest rates, stronger environmental legislation and tax cuts for small businesses. Her Republican opponent, Scott Brown, wants to eliminate excessive tuition hikes, opposes the Affordable Care Act and supports tax credits for businesses that hire veterans. This is just a snapshot of the various policies Shaheen and Brown stand behind, and we encourage you to learn more. In addition, Congresswoman Annie Kuster ’78, D-N.H., is running for reelection against Garcia, and Gov. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., is seeking a second term against Republican Walt Havenstein.

We are lucky to live in a state that offers same-day voter registration and makes voting accessible to its college students. Across the country, voter identification laws are making it harder for out-of-state students to vote, eliminating college IDs as proof for registration. But in New Hampshire, you can bring any kind of photo identification, including a Dartmouth ID, to register at the polls. No matter whom you support, show up to the polls on Nov. 4. And when you do, know exactly who you’re voting for and why.