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Many Americans overcome seemingly insurmountable odds in order to vote. For one couple, that meant flying 9,300 miles halfway around the world to cast their ballots.

Susan Scott-Ker and her husband became American citizens last year, so this is their first time voting in a U.S. election. New Zealand-born Scott-Ker and her Moroccan-born husband live and work in India, and their early ballots did not reach them in time, so they were unable to return them or vote at the American Embassy in India.

So they did what few Americans would bother to do and flew to New York City to cast their ballots in person, according to The Associated Press.

But they are not the only ones; there are plenty of other stories of people doing anything and everything to vote. In some Phoenix-area early voting locations, lines reached upward of five hours late last week. Lines were out the door and literally wrapped around the buildings. Still, people stayed and waited for their five minutes to cast a ballot.

These are stories of democracy at work. These are stories of civic virtue and all that stuff we learned about in 12th-grade government class. They are stories of the power of the people.

They are also, unfortunately, few and far between — especially when it comes to college-aged students.

According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, 47 percent of Americans ages 18-24 turned out to vote in the 2004 election, up from 36 percent in 2000. An 11-percentage-point jump is impressive and clearly demonstrates a yearning for change, but it is still surprisingly low considering the political climate on most college campuses.

In my experience, college students are engaged in politics and look for government change. They are underestimated by many adults, as they have educated opinions and can talk about issues ranging from education and health care, the war in Iraq and foreign policy. Not all students are interested or care about every subject, but almost without fail, they can find something that is important to them.

And most of all, they are powerful. The 18-24 age group is perhaps the most powerful bloc in the country, which is why, in recent years, presidential hopefuls make many stops at college campuses, especially in battleground states.

We may not have the most money to donate to candidates or work for large unions, but we have the power of sheer numerical size. We are the “future of America” who will need jobs within the next four years. We will become the next president’s teachers, accountants and, yes, even politicians.

So why do we seem so apathetic at the polls? Including those recently graduated from college (age 18-29), the turnout was only 49 percent in 2004, compared with 68 percent of those 30 or older.

Tuesday, I challenge the students of ASU and across the country to take the time to vote. Get up a little earlier or try to go on your lunch break. Many employers will allow workers time off for the purpose of voting.

Show the country that we are not to be ignored and we are not to be underestimated. After all, if you don’t bother to vote, can you really complain later?

Whatever your affiliation, whoever your candidate, I urge you to exercise your right to vote — and be thankful you do not have to fly 9,300 miles to do it.

Janne has already voted and hopes you will, too. She can be reached at

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