Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Exercise your right to vote

By Michael Agnello

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(Daily Collegian File Photo)

(Daily Collegian File Photo)

Today, registered Massachusetts voters will convene to elect new members into office and to accept or reject pending legislation. Will you be one of those conscious citizens who fulfill the ol’ civic duty? Or are you someone who believes that voting isn’t cool, a hassle or worst of all, not worth your time?

The cliché that is too often stated, “My single vote won’t make a difference,” is a common reason for low turnout. Yet at a state level your vote will make a difference whether you want to believe it or not. In state elections the voting pool is smaller than in national elections, so in essence, with less available voters your single vote holds more weight. Plus, your state vote won’t be saturated by the Electoral College.

That brings up another point. Why do people think it is better to vote in national elections over state elections? While voting for a new president seems important, the truth is that presidential decisions will affect you less than what your state politicians decide. The impact of a state governor, senator or representative is tangible within your community. Improvements to roads or funds to your hometown school are not the product of Mr. President, but rather your state politicians. Therefore, participating in the process of voting on a state level demonstrates an interest in your local community.

In this election, your vote will also make a considerable difference within the realm of ballot questions. There is a total of four questions that deal with eliminating gas tax indexing, expanding the beverage container deposit law, expanding prohibitions on gaming and earned sick time for employees. Your vote of either a yes or no will directly impact whether the issues are passed or denied within the Commonwealth.

This part of the ballot gives citizens the opportunity to weigh in on specific legislation, putting the power in our hands. Thus, if you want to make a difference within the boundaries of the state, voting on ballot questions is a great opportunity to have your voice heard.

Often times when the topic of politics is addressed among students it is followed by groans or disinterest, making it clear that many people do not care who is in office making the vital decisions that shape the future of our state. But this pessimistic attitude is precisely what is preventing serious change within our society. Democracy relies on participation from the population.

As William Galvin, our state secretary, noted, “To vote is to exercise the most essential right of our democratic system.” We should make time to become informed in order to improve the condition of the state by electing candidates who best represent our beliefs.

A vital piece of information that voters should keep in mind is that the opportunity to vote is a privilege. It was not long ago when certain populations of people were denied the right to cast a ballot. We are very fortunate to live in a society that is based on the foundations of representation, where all citizens above the age of 18 do in fact have the power to cause change. I say that very seriously. Change can occur through your vote. I realize that lack of trust for government officials can be a deterrent to participation, but think about this: If every eligible citizen participated then we would have politicians who better represent the masses, instead of a minority of people.

Be active and be the change. Do it for your state, your community, your family, your hamster and of course yourself. You really do have a special power by having the ability to vote and keep the democratic system healthy. Those people in office, no matter what your attitude about them, make important decisions that affect our society. If we want to live in a place that best represents our desires then it is imperative to vote.

Michael Agnello is a Collegian contributor and can be reached at [email protected]

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