You need to vote — and not just for president

Care about tuition prices? Guns on campus? Then elect those decision makers.

You need to vote — and not just for president.

On Nov. 8, ASU students along with the rest of the U.S. will decide the nation's next president. More importantly, ASU students will vote for elected officials who will decide how much funding the University receives from the state government. These decision makers do not live in the White House, nor do they travel to DC every week. They are arguably the most influential government officials for universities and students in the short term; they are state legislators.

Every day, students complain about tuition rates, but they may not be aware of what they can do to change them. The Arizona Legislature determines the funding for universities, which in turn influences our tuition. Simply ignoring these political offices come election season and voting solely for a presidential ticket does a disservice to not only yourself, but to the state. You not only have the power to choose the next president, but to choose the policymakers who will affect you on a daily basis.

There are 30 legislative districts across the state, and if you live in Arizona, you live in one of them. For each district, you can vote for two representatives and one senator. While it is fun to say that you voted for president, it is more significant to vote for your state legislators. The state is expecting to see a major drop off from those who vote for the president to those who vote for legislators, Nick Semenchuk, Campaign Manager for Elect Eric Meyer said.

"We are preparing for a nearly 10 percent drop off in some areas of the state," Semenchuk said. 

Not only were they expecting lower voter turnout for legislative races but turnout among young people is also expected to be low. In 2014 voters aged 18-34 only accounted for 10.8 percent of the vote.

Your vote matters more from a mathematical perspective in the legislative race. There are over 300 million U.S. citizens, but there are roughly 200,000 who live in each of Arizona’s legislative districts. Remember that while Arizona will most certainly be red, your legislative race might be a swing district. Yes, it is true, your vote could make a tremendous difference in an election cycle this November even if you live in a blue or red state.

The legislature not only affects our tuition, but they also vote on bills allowing guns on campus, a recent hot topic for student government. It doesn’t matter what side you take on the issue, but if you feel passionate about it, you should be voting in your legislative races. The $99 million in budget cuts universities suffered last year was passed by a single vote in the state senate (16-14). A single race ending differently could have prevented to a degree, the implementation of the $320 surcharge fee, the 4 percent increase for out of state students, and the 12 percent increase for international students. Simply stated, the legislature directly affects students.

Voting as a U.S. citizen is a spiritually rewarding experience, but don’t get caught up in the idea that there is only one election at stake. There are many hotly contested races that will be affecting you on a daily basis. You don’t need to know every single detail about every race either, but you do need to be knowledgeable to a certain threshold. Do your homework, dig deeper and become a better informed voter, because you need to vote — and not just for the president.

Related Links:

5 ways to prepare for the coming presidential primaries

Here's how to register to vote for your state's presidential primary


Reach the columnist at jarwood@asu.edu or follow @jimsthebeast on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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