Students on campus have not been silent about the recent nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Throughout the confirmation process, people protested against the nomination outside of Coffman Union, as well as protested outside of Northrop Auditorium. While it's important for students to use their voices to stand up for what they believe in, we cannot forget the power the student population has on decisions like these in the voting booth.
The National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement collaborated with the National Student Clearinghouse to gather enrollment data from universities across the U.S. and match with public voter turnout records. The data received by NSLVE remains anonymous and students names or who they voted for remain that way, as well. The main goal of this research is to break down student voting habits.
During the 2016 elections there were 39,265 students at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus who were eligible to vote. Among those eligible, 30,004 were registered to vote, with 25,640 students placing votes in the election. That's 65 percent of the University's eligible student population who turned up to cast their ballots on election day.
Across all institutions studied in the report, about 50 percent of students voted. With just over half of the student body taking time out of their day to vote, these turnout numbers are not bad. But they should be higher. Voting is important, especially during a time where our nation is so politically polarized.
Voting is not just important in national elections, but also in our local elections. Some may even regard these local races as more important. The decisions our local government make, specifically on issues like student loans, public transportation, police-community relations and higher education funding, directly affecting us every day. If we don't take the time out of our schedules to vote, we lose our opportunity to have a say in local policy.
As students, we need to the importance of our vote to the highest regard. We may not control who ends up sitting on our Supreme Court, but we are in control of voting for the people who are in charge of that nomination process. We need to hold lawmakers — on all governmental levels — responsible for their actions in and out of office. We should be asking them our tough questions and voicing our concerns about policies, while also — voting.
Ultimately, we need to show up on election night in November, to put people into office that we trust to prioritize our voices in their decision making. Unfortunately, we do not get the final say in many political outcomes, but let's hold those accountable that do and vote in November.