Letter to the Editor

Collegiate voting essential to future of local elections

Demonstrating good voting habits always a necessity

Looking at the results for the recent Rensselaer freshman elections is disgusting. Only 22 percent of the largest class at Rensselaer of 1,700 voted—this is awful. Do the students not appreciate the fact that, out of the 19,000 students that applied, they are one that got accepted and is about to start one of the most rewarding experiences of their life?

My hometown is holding elections November 7 for selectmen. Not only am I out of state, but I have already requested my absentee ballot, and will be receiving it in the mail any day, and I am excited to vote—it’s one of my rights. Why are the election results for the freshmen class so low?

I asked a few freshmen why they did not vote. Some responses were, “I did not want to vote for the candidate that was calling people to come vote, so I responded back ‘maybe’ and never went back again.” Another anonymous freshman replied, “I was not aware.”

When voting, never feel forced to vote for the candidate with the free food that is shaking everyone’s hand outside the voting booths. If that candidate seems to be annoying you, just walk by and proceed to vote. In terms of not being aware, student government may want to consider ways to better spread the word. The candidates that recently ran in the elections certainly got their names out there with the abundance of posters around campus, but posters with voting locations and times the polls were open seem to have fallen short. I even received generic responses from many students of, “I don’t care.” This is the absolute worst response to hear, and may even resemble all the individuals in general that don’t vote and end up complaining after an election that their candidate lost—well, excuse me, you didn’t vote, therefore you should not have a right to complain.

Many millennials, too, have been raised to receive a reward for doing “good,” such as a trophy for coming in last place for a season while putting in minimum to no effort, whereas after voting you might receive an “I voted” sticker, or you might not. This one mindset of millennials may take away many registered voters from even bothering to vote—there’s no physical object received after voting. As I mentioned earlier, it’s a right to vote, and not voting at all shows that you do not care much for where you live, or the institute that is currently preparing you for life-long success.

For the students that did vote, one freshman commented that he voted because “[his] friends were running,” while another student mentioned “it was in Commons.” Good to hear that these students voted, but will they vote for their town elections, state elections, and even national elections if the voting location isn’t 100 steps outside their house, and a candidate that they have never been acquainted with is running?

Looking back at my freshmen election results back in 2014, a whopping 28 percent of the class voted—a shocking 6 percent more than this past year’s results. This common trend at Rensselaer for freshman elections is atrocious, and I hope that more students vote in the spring RPI GM week elections, but more importantly in all elections on all levels.