Verbum Ultimum: Make Your Vox Count

by The Dartmouth Editorial Board | 9/27/12 10:00pm

Last Friday, Vice President Joe Biden visited Dartmouth's campus and spoke at a rally endorsing the Democratic ticket ("Biden stumps at Hanover event," Sept. 24). This event served as a reminder that the national election is nearly upon us, and voter registration efforts are in full swing. As President Barack Obama reminded us in his August speech at the Democratic National Convention, we as Americans living in a democratic society must work to preserve the republic by fully exercising our rights as citizens. We are obligated to vote on Nov. 6, whether that be at the polls or via absentee ballots. As college students, the vast majority of us do not live locally, and we must pay special attention to the upcoming election.

It has become fashionable for students to denigrate voting as an empty gesture. However, recent elections have demonstrated that even small numbers of votes matter. In 2000, the presidential election was decided by a margin of little more than 500 votes in the swing state of Florida, and close congressional elections are often decided by even smaller margins. New Hampshire is a particularly divided state, and this year our eyes rest upon both the presidential contest and the fierce showdown between Rep. Charlie Bass '74, R-N.H., and Democratic candidate Ann Kuster '78. Although many Dartmouth students hail from solidly blue or red states, our domicile in New Hampshire affords us the opportunity to have an outsize impact on the election. This is not a position that we as students should take lightly.

Republican representatives in the New Hampshire state legislature have recently led efforts to place greater restrictions on student voters who live in New Hampshire but who come from out of state. Although the New Hampshire house speaker has explicitly targeted "foolish" college students whom he perceives as having liberal leanings, these proposals are presented under the guise of combating voter fraud. Fortunately, in this year's election, Dartmouth students will still be able to vote so long as they present their student identification cards or other accepted ID at the polls. Subsequent elections may be accompanied by much stricter voter identification rules.

Whether you are liberal, conservative or lie elsewhere on the political spectrum, there is no excuse as a Dartmouth student to neglect this simple act of democratic engagement. Apathy should not be vaunted or taken lightly educated individuals have a responsibility to participate in the all-important political life of their nation. To parrot a famous statement of dubious origin: Decisions are made by those who show up.

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